La Vida Locavore: Eat Local
There’s No Place Better Than Here to Eat Local
A person who makes an eff ort to eat food that is grown, raised, or produced locally, usually within 100 miles of home.
“Eat Local” is more than a catchy phrase. It can be a way of life for Ventura County, according to research findings by Elliott Campbell, PhD, of UC Merced. Up to 90% of Americans could be fed entirely by food grown or raised within 100 miles of their homes, according to the study “The Large Potential of Local Croplands to Meet Food Demand in the United States,” released in June.
“For a 50-mile radius with year 2000 populations, the cities in Ventura County can support 50% to 100% of their populations with local food,” says Campbell, an associate professor of environmental engineering.
We wanted to look at his research from a different angle, moving away from the quantity of food to what food. And what if we limited it to just Ventura County’s borders? What would a Ventura County super-locavore diet look like this fall?
What we found is that locals have access to a varied menu, heavy on produce with some animal protein thrown in.
This is the type of diet Campbell advocates: “A meat-intensive diet requires three times as much land as a plant-based diet. When people choose to eat more plants and fewer animal products then they can make the most of our local croplands,” he explains.
Plus, it’s healthier.
We reached out to Nikki Newman, executive chef at Coastal Grill at the Embassy Suites at Mandalay Beach Hotel and Resort in Oxnard, for recipe ideas using ingredients produced in our county. Though relatively new to California, she’s an avid fan of buying local and frequents the Channel Islands Harbor Farmers’ Market on Sundays.
Newman is impressed with the farmers here and surprised by the abundance of local products available. “The diversity, the amount and the plethora of options is amazing,” she says. “It’s been fun discovering new products and playing with them.”
As a farm-to-table chef, she says, she can have a much more diverse menu. “We can offer a lot more items as things keep coming into season. It just means you can pretty much do anything, from Mexican food to Asian food to classic French, Mediterranean dishes. International cuisines are at your hand.”
Looking over the list of local fall ingredients, Newman quickly began naming possible dishes from various cuisines, before settling on the elements that would become Ventura County Opah with Citrus Salsa and Honey Sauce (recipe on page 43). It’s composed entirely of Ventura County ingredients—well, except for the seasonings.
After making Newman’s recipe and a salad of local greens, we encourage you to create your own super-locavore menu using the ingredient list on the next page as a guide.
And throughout the year, eat like a locavore where you can. Seek out local products at the county’s farmers’ markets, farm stands, CSAs and specialty local retailers.
“Definitely take advantage of all the ingredients that are in the area,” Newman advises.