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What is a Distavore?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2016
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There’s a growing movement to eat foods grown locally, within 100 miles (160.93 km) of one's home. This may be called the farm to table movement, and people who make a conscientious effort to obtain and eat local foods are often called locavores. Depending upon where you live, it may be easy or difficult to obtain all or most of your foods from local food producers. There are no locavores in Antarctica, because the continent offers limited opportunities for obtaining a varied diet. In contrast, a person in Antarctica would have to be a distavore for most foods, eating a diet composed of foods that are produced over 100 miles from home.

The suggestion that eating local foods is healthier may be partly true. When you buy locally you are supporting the sustainability of your community and local farms and producers. You also may be helping the environment by reducing shipping costs of foods, since they have less distance to travel. Yet distavore habits may not be bad in and of themselves, especially when you’re purchasing foods that add to your overall nutritional intake. Most communities don’t produce enough different grains for instance to provide you with optimum dietary choices, and it’s awfully challenging to get ocean fish for heart health if you live far from the nearest ocean.

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Some people have taken the distavore concept overboard, in reaction to the locavore movement. In 2008, in Time Magazine, writer Joel Stein embraced distavore eating traits by composing a meal of foods that were grown or produced at least 3000 miles away from his home in LA. To many who support locavore concepts, Stein’s article was an insult. Others may note some of the things Stein said that offer a more moderate approach. For instance, he had trouble finding foods that could only be obtained 3000 miles away; the rich soil, climate and varied food production in Southern California means there are many locally obtainable choices.

Of course, not every community offers the weather, climate or soil of California. While farm to table food buying may be easy in good growing regions, it may be impractical for most foods in other areas. For some people, buying locally is simply too expensive. Ironically foods that are shipped may be less expensive at grocery stores.

It may be cheaper to be a distavore with most foods. This has raised concern though, especially with foods produced outside a country. Growing concern about safety of foods imported from China, for instance, has led many to look for locally grown alternative foods. Many people walk the line between distavore and locavore, buying locally when foods are plentiful, inexpensive and available, and buying non-local foods when they’re more readily available and/or cheaper.

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