Fresh & Local
Cookbooks for Locavores
Column #25, Published Mar 9th, 2012

There is currently a food revolution going on. Locally grown food is making permanent inroads into the food we eat, and the way we think about food.

Last week I discovered more evidence that locally grown food is no longer a passing fad, but has now become mainstream. Terry went to the Culpeper library and came home with a locavore cookbook. That was a new one to me.

If you are unfamiliar with the word “locavore,” I wrote a column about it back on Nov. 4th. That column is still available on the Star-Exponent web site. Just search for the word “locavore.”

Briefly, Wikipedia defines a “locavore” as, “a person interested in eating food that is locally produced, not moved long distances to market.” As I said back then, if locally grown food really is making permanent inroads into the food we eat, then it should not be too surprising that there is now a word for people who prefer locally grown food.

But I had never heard of a locavore cookbook, so I wondered if this was the only one. I went out to the web site and searched the books for the word “locavore.” To my amazement, there were 44 hits. Most of the hits appear to be cookbooks. I had no idea there were so many. In fact, there was even one of those “Complete Idiot” series books titled, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Local,” by Diane Welland. That is really mainstream.

Amazon lets you browse some of the books. Ms. Welland begins the “Complete Idiot” book by pointing out that for thousands of years we were all locavores and ate what grew nearby. It was the advent of high speed trains, planes and superhighways that put big distances between us and where our food comes from. Being a locavore is not something new, but a return to the way things used to be.

I had a reader tell me the same thing. She said her 93 year old mother lived on a farm in Rixeyville. “Eating locally makes her chuckle because so much of what is new to us is really very old. The technology and inventions post WWII, exciting at the time, took us down a different road and we are trying to find our way back.”

The cookbook that Terry checked out from the Culpeper library was titled, “The Locavore’s Kitchen” by Marilou Suszko. The book is organized into sections on spring, summer, fall and winter, and within each section Ms. Suszko list foods that are in season. For each food, there is a description and recipes.

We grow greens, so I thumbed through the spring section and looked for the greens. I found Swiss chard. The leaves can be used like spinach. That I knew. It is a member of the beet family. That I didn’t. The first recipe is for chard pancakes. My initial reaction to that recipe was not positive. But the second recipe is for linguine with chard and bacon. That one sounds really good.

Oddly, there are no salad greens listed in the spring section. They are in the summer section. Here in Virginia, it is way too hot to grow salad greens in summer. The author is from San Francisco, and their seasons are obviously different from ours.

All in all, it is an interesting book. And it provides more evidence that locavores are now mainstream.

Bryant Osborn and his wife Terry own Corvallis Farms in Culpeper County. His column on fresh and locally grown food runs every Friday. He can be reached at