Cambridge and Somerville Local First - 2011 Coupon Book - Shift Your Shopping to Local First

I was a Locavore, and I didn’t even know it

Sep 23 3:30 pm

By Kristen Schaer

 

Settle down, Kristen! And take your love of local with you wherever you may travel!

Perhaps no one understands the value of community more than the nomad. I was an army brat and a seeker of new places throughout my 20s, so the locavore movement appealed to me in several ways once I decided to dig in and set up came in the Cambridge/Somerville area.

Throughout my 20s I viewed the place I lived much like I saw my string of small, utilitarian apartments: a place to lay my head between work and going out with friends. As a nomad, I don’t necessarily think of home as a physical space. Home is friends, belonging, family, and the community I have made in all those woven-together pieces. Home is friends, belonging, family, and the community I have made in all those woven-together pieces. It becomes a location in which I choose to invest based on the people and places that have welcomed me and become my own.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was a locavore based on the circumstances of my life. So many hurl complaints against buying local: its asceticism, its expense, its inevitable destruction in the face of big-box retail. But recently, I realized that so many of us contribute to buying locally without our even knowing. Far from being a sacrifice, local buying is a necessity in an urban dweller’s life and, without much effort, a daily ritual.

Transportation: Having a car can be expensive and impractical in the city. Bikes or two legs are the transit of choice for most city denizens, and under your own steam, less is definitely more. Buying less and buying it locally makes the transport of those goods less painful for the way home. Places like Arc-En-Ciel Bicycle Studio and Paramount Bicycle can help outfit bicycles and riders for whatever their needs may be – from commuting to work to going grocery shopping.

Fashion: The price of cotton as a commodity fluctuates wildly depending on its demand in other countries and the viability of crops from season to season. The supply chain of clothes from foreign factories to the US and the re-distribution via planes, trains, and trucks to national retailers only makes the cost to the consumer steeper. Second-hand designer and vintage clothes have long been trendy, and the advent of street style blogs in cities across the country has localized interest in these shops. It’s far from sacrifice to forgo the latest mall trends, and fans of second-hand designers and vintage actually relish the opportunity to get one-of-a-kind clothes. Artifaktori in Davis Square and Grand in Union Square stock their racks with carefully selected submissions from locals.

Booze: Bellying up to the bar is practically a wintry prescription for the nine months we spend in the cold. Cambridge and Somerville has been blessed by the brewing gods with a plethora of craft and artisanal brews at a variety of tap-laden bars around the area. Yes, local brews are generally more expensive because of the cost of running a smaller operation and the high-quality ingredients. But, consider the ratio of alcohol by volume to cost, and the locals blast national, corporate-run chains out of the water, fitting considering the watered-down quality in many mass-produced brews. For example, at Sunset Grill & Tap in Allston, you can get a pint of Lexington’s Clown Shoes Tramp Stamp for $5.99 at 7% ABV. That same 16 oz. can of PBR isn’t looking so hip anymore at $4.99 for a mere 4.7% ABV. Drinking for quality and quantity of alcohol, instead of a night spent in line for the bathroom, can actually be the way to go.

Music: Destination festivals like Lollapalooza, Coachella, and Bonnaroo offer appealing line-ups and the chance to get out of town for a bit. But between festival admission, plane tickets, hotel or campground fees, and the $6+ bottles of water purchased on festival day, the cost is pretty prohibitive. I always hear complaints that despite the area’s conservatories and music schools, so much talent vacates for opportunities in New York, Los Angeles, and Nashville. To those detractors, I say, look at cities like Seattle, with a rock scene that grew up out of a supportive culture, or Detroit, with a techno scene that still thrives despite the downtrodden economy. Our music scene is nurtured by locals who have a personal interest in having talent in their backyard. The Together Festival, which brings international and local techno acts together for a week of panels, shows, and cultural events, shows great promise in its two years of existence. Harvest Fest and Somerfun bring together local businesses, food, fashion, and entertainment each year. Events like these foster real creativity, exchange of ideas, and neighborhood building.

My reasons for being a locavore may have been convenience and affordability at first, but once I started realizing that the simple and often natural things I do every day actually feed the community around me, I felt I actually had a stake in my community. Look around at the businesses, events, and people around you, and I’m sure you’ll see that you’re much more dedicated to your community than you realize.





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