No-Bar-Code Challenge: Locavores Try to Eat Local Every Meal

Family's experience trying to live as locavores and eat local every meal holds promise for those searching for a locavore's approach to food.

| March/April 2011

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Americans sometimes worry more about their dogs’ diets than their own. Valerie Jaquith of Crested Butte, Colorado, once was guilty of such an attitude, before her and her family became locavores and attempted to eat local every meal. “A lot of people make changes in their lives when they first have children. For us, it was when we got our dog,” she says.

Valerie didn’t like the processed food she was feeding her dog, Tessa, so she began to buy meat scraps from a nearby plant that processes elk for hunters. She couldn’t help noticing Tessa’s improved health. Valerie began wondering about her own diet.

“I wouldn’t feed my dog out of a bag, why would we feed ourselves out of a bag?” she recalls asking herself.

Like a growing number of Americans, Valerie had been searching for a way to motivate herself to buy fresh, local produce. After her dog-food epiphany, she decided to avoid eating food that came in packages affixed with barcodes, and she launched a blog about her experience, Food Without Barcodes ( It’s a unique twist to eating local. Valerie and her husband, Jeff, try to avoid buying bar-coded foods, other than items like olive oil and salt. Instead, they try to grow or hunt their own food and buy from local farmers. The benefits of such a diet can be huge for an individual’s health, the environment and the local economy.

Nutritionists are coming to a consensus that a diet cannot be healthy without whole grains and fresh fruits, vegetables and meats, which are more often found when you buy local goods. Even the U.S. government’s Women, Infants and Children food program, much maligned by many nutritionists for its reliance on white-flour foodstuffs and sugar-filled cereals, has finally overhauled its national regulations to allow clients to purchase some whole grains and fresh produce.

Environmentalists hope eating locally can cut down on the carbon footprint of the typical U.S. diet by eliminating excess packaging and delivery miles. Estimates suggest the average spoonful of food in a U.S. diet travels between 1,500 and 2,000 miles to get to the dinner plate.

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