For the Best Relationship to Food, Stay Close to Home

a caveman is collecting and eating apples from a tree, at front of his cave
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If you’re looking for a way in which the cavemen had it right, think in terms of where they got their food.

A caveman obviously didn’t grab food from a supermarket, restaurant or vending machine. Nor could he travel far to get what he needed; even a hunting expedition had to be relatively close to home and fishing trips stayed within sight of land.

Cave people ate what was close at hand—and only what was close at hand. That may sound like a limiting diet, but it may come as a surprise what variety of food often grows within a few miles of where you live.

Unless, of course, you’re already a locavore.

Locavores are folks who make their choices based on how close food items are produced in relation to where they live. The emphasis is on foods that are locally grown or animals raised in a traditional way on nearby farms.

There are multiple reasons for this approach, with the main one being environmental. The shorter the distance to market, the fewer resources are wasted in the process, and the lower the pollution that results.

Many consider food grown or produced within a 100-mile radius to qualify as “local,” while others have more stringent definitions or make exceptions for specialty items that might otherwise be unavailable.

This is obviously a lot easier in milder climates where more food is available year-round, but it’s also becoming a lot easier to increase emphasis on local products no matter where you are located.

One obvious solution: Grow your own! Backyard farming is a great way to eat locally.

However, if that’s not an option for you, or if you want more variety, Farmers Markets are becoming ever-present, and attendees are usually very open about where they’re from. That makes it easy to get local goods in a convenient setting.

If getting to a Farmers Market is too much trouble, most areas have a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program that arranges weekly deliveries from a local farm in exchange for a small investment. All of this can be a boon for local farmers, enabling them to stay in business.

For those who live in areas where the growing season is shorter, learning how to can and preserve fruits and vegetables for the winter months, or to store meat for extended stretches, can help ease the gap until the weather turns warm again.

Such activities also approximate the duties that a caveman family would have had to undertake to survive the lean seasons, when the local 7-11 wasn’t around to supplement the food in their storehouse.

Locavores are more than just a growing trend, to be handled by installing a shelf or two for local products at the supermarket. There’s a growing movement that is lobbying for the “true cost of food” to be more apparent.

Such transparency would require indicating factors like the cost of the gas and transportation to market, as well as the societal cost of the environmental damage that may result, in the price of the product.

Should that happen, the future of food production will tie even more heavily to local areas—much like it did for the cavemen.

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Lex Cavemen

LEX is the scientist. He is obsessed with understanding why and how the world around him works the way it does.

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