Dear Miss Floribunda,
My wife and I recently returned from the Riverdale Park Farmers’ Market with some asparagus, eggs and honey, which we shared with the young couple next door. They accused of us of being “locovores,” and when I indignantly asked what they meant by that, they laughed and told me to ask you. I don’t know if those are fighting words or not. It sounds like a combination of “loco” (meaning “crazy”) and some voracious beast. Please tell me whether I should be insulted.
Curmudgeon on Crittenden Street
You should feel complimented, not insulted. Locavores (not “locovores”) are responsible citizens who eat food grown locally, which is a good thing for a number of reasons.
The term locavore literally means “local eater” and was put together from the Latin word “locus,” ( “place”) and “vorare” (“to swallow”). It was coined in 2005 by Jessica Prentice, director of education of the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market in San Francisco, and author of the book Full Moon Feast. She was part of a group encouraging people to eat food produced within a 100-mile radius of San Francisco, and the movement to encourage local agriculture spread rapidly throughout the country. In 2007, locavore was the Word of the Year in the Oxford American Dictionary.
Not only do locavores buy fruit, vegetables, eggs, wines and ciders, cheese, honey, jams and preserves, baked goods, meat and seafood from nearby farmers’ markets, waterfronts and farms, but they often grow their own food and share with neighbors who also keep vegetable gardens and orchards, bake bread, raise chickens or have colonies of honeybees. They freeze and can their produce for the winter. They also lobby local restaurants and supermarkets to acquire food from nearby farms rather than the factory farms that exploit animals and pollute the environment. Many join CSAs – which are Community Supported Agriculture cooperatives in which consumers pay for a weekly delivery or pickup of locally grown produce. A whole column could be devoted to these alone.
Aside from the obvious environmental benefits and the economic help given to small farms, locally grown food is more healthful and tastes better. For example, the kinds of fruit and vegetables to which we’ve become accustomed are often chosen for their ability to withstand the rigors of transport and frequent handling. They are picked before they are fully ripe and artificial coloring is often added to make them look palatable. More delicate – and delicious – varieties are often passed over. Also, there is much anecdotal evidence that eating honey made by bees from pollen in one’s own area is the best preventative for allergies.
We are fortunate that we now have a community garden being developed in Hyattsville. If you don’t have a plot, you can make friends with those who do. To meet some, please come to the next meeting of the Hyattsville Horticultural Society at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 18, at the home of Marsha and Jeff Moulton, 6122 42nd Street.
Don’t want to grow your own? Here’s a list of the area farmers’ markets, which are now open for the season except where noted. If you’re willing to travel, you can visit one every day of the week except Monday. All of these markets have websites with addresses and maps.
Tuesday: Beginning June 14, you can shop from 2 to 6 p.m. at our own Hyattsville Farmers’ Market at the Queens Chapel Town Center (Queens Chapel Road and Hamilton Street), or at the nearby Brookland Farmers’ Market (10th and Otis streets NE, Washington, D.C.) from 4 to 7 p.m.
Wednesday: Two choices in Washington, D.C.: At the Foggy Bottom Metro station (on the orange and blue lines) from 3 to 7 p.m., and at Georgetown’s Rose Park (26th and O streets NW), from 4 to 7 p.m.
Thursday: In Beltsville, the USDA Farmers’ Market (5601 Sunnyside Avenue, Parking Lot B), runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the Riverdale Park Farmers’ Market (4650 Queensbury Road) is open from 3 to 7 p.m.
Friday: If you don’t mind crossing a bridge, you can go to the McLean Farmers’ Market (1659 Chain Bridge Road) in Virginia, which is open from 8 a.m. to noon.
Saturday: The College Park Farmers’ Market – the oldest in Maryland – is open 7 a.m. to noon. in the Herbert Wells Ice Rink/Ellen Linson Swimming Pool parking lot. On May 21, two markets open for business: in Mount Rainier (3200 Rhode Island Avenue) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and at the Cheverly Community Center (6401 Forest Road), open every other Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. And the Silver Spring Farmers’ Market (Ellsworth Drive between Fenton Street and Georgia Avenue) is open year round from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Sunday: The Greenbelt Farmers’ Market, which opened for the season on Mother’s Day, runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Roosevelt Center Parking Lot. The Takoma Park Farmers’ Market, at Carroll and Laurel avenues, is open year round from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.