American Society For Nutrition

Locavore living: how to use local produce

Locavore living: how to use local produce

Excellence in Nutrition Research and Practice
Posted on 09/17/2009 at 05:39:20 PM by Student Blogger
By Emily C.

Omnivore, flexitarian, vegetarian, locavore…wait a minute?! Locavore? If you haven't heard of this term yet, you must not live near a farmer's market. Locavore (which was the New Oxford American Dictionary's word of the year in 2007) refers to people who opt to purchase locally grown or produced food.


You've heard about the organic quandary from fellow blogger Caitlin {note: local is not always synonymous with organic} and seen the benefits of sustainable agriculture in this summer's hot documentary, Food, Inc. If you're like me and have made a commitment to eat more locally grown foods, going to the farmer's market is a fantastic new adventure. On weekends, I wander around, filling my shopping bag {reusable, of course} with all sorts of colorful produce, from ginormous zucchini to perfectly plump Heirloom tomatoes.

[photo courtesy of Kristin]

However, upon arriving home, I'm at a loss for what to do with all of these new purchases. I enjoy a good salad, but I'd rather exercise more culinary creativity (and really, there's only so much salad I can eat in a week). Thus, I present to you 5 ways to use local produce.

[photo courtesy of Tina]

1. Who said you have to use vegetables to make vegetable dishes. This recipe, from Kitchen Gardeners International, is a decadent way to use zucchini.

[photo courtesy of KGI]

2. What about eggplant? Michael Chiarello's Stuffed Foccacia with Roasted Eggplant and Oregano only sounds like an uppity dish; it's actually a nice dinner party appetizer.

[photo courtesy of Tina]

3. One of my assignments as a dietetic intern is to craft a cooking demonstration using local produce. One of the dishes I've chosen to prepare is Open-Face Ratatouille Sandwiches, featuring a variety of veggies such as eggplant, zucchini, tomato, and red pepper.

[photo courtesy of Heart Healthy Living]

4. Have you ever spiralized your zucchini or sliced your red pepper, carrots, or cucumbers into noodle form? Gena's Peanut Noodles uses raw veggies in the place of traditional noodles with a tasty Asian-inspired dressing.

[photo courtesy of Gena]

5. As we move toward fall, Stephanie O'Dea's Sweet Potato Chili sounds pretty good. For all of you doing research, you can start this dish in your crockpot, do some lab work, and come home to a warm and comforting dinner.

[photo courtesy of Stephanie O'Dea, author of Make it Fast, Cook it Slow:
The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking
blogs at]

As lighthearted as this post has been, remember that teaching others how to prepare local food is important. We can proclaim eating locally and organically from the rooftops, but if people don't know what to do with produce, they aren't going to buy it. I realize education is not the only problem and that economics and other accessibility issues exist.  But if you have friends who want to start buying local produce (and can afford to do so), help them out by sharing a recipe (or two).
Posted Sep 17, 2009 2:48 PM by Rebecca Kanter
Just FYI, many farmers markets now accept food stamps (EBT) and/or WIC. So please spread the word :)

Yum! What a great set of culinary creations! I'm really into the peanut noodles, as I've seen them a lot lately in the blog world, I', gonna have to give them a try.

I wish I could be more of a locavore, but sadly I just don't get to farmer's markets often. Tonight I would like to go to the North Market, a local market that has tons of fresh produce, which I have a coupon for! Tonight, I will be a locavore :)

You have some great advice about using local produce here! I really miss being able to go to the market at home and getting fresh, local produce - it's much harder to do in a large (desert!) city. Keep up the great work!

great meal ideas using local produces! :D

Posted Sep 19, 2009 10:01 PM by Laurie
My husband is not an eggplant fan - but the ratatouille was a big hit. Thanks for the encouragement!

Posted Sep 19, 2009 10:04 PM by Bethany
Fascinating article, Ms. Carlson! You make some wonderful points; I am anxious to try sweet potato chili.

AWESOME post, Emily! I love all the pictures, too. You've made a believer in me!

thanks for writing about this. i am a huge supporter of the local food movement, and i think you make a good point that we need to not only tell people that buying locally is good, but show them how to use local foods in their cooking.