Just a few years ago, Daniel Corry would have been lost at the farmers market. He never went, he wouldn’t have known where to start, and he would have been astounded that someone would pay that much for a box of blueberries. He was happy with Trader Joe’s. Now, Daniel is a farmers market regular; he goes at least once a week, he has his favorite stands, and he happily pays that much for a box of locally-grown blueberries. He wouldn’t dream of buying produce at Trader Joe’s anymore. “It has no taste!” he says.
Though he didn’t know it at the time, Daniel’s evolution into a locavore began 14 years ago, when he bought a house with a big backyard and quite a few avocado trees—75 to be precise. He started gardening and grew to appreciate the ready supply of fresh avocados. But he didn’t really think about where the majority of his food was grown or processed.
Daniel is not your typical environmentalist. In fact, he’s a Libertarian businessman. So it was not an environmental concern that got him to the farmers market — it was meeting a local blueberry farmer. “At first I just wanted to help support local farmers and local jobs,” Daniel explains. “Then I was shocked by the taste. The food just tastes so much better. I had no idea. It really opened my eyes and sparked my awareness. I started thinking about it, and realized ‘You know, I shouldn’t be eating apples that come from Chile.’ It just doesn’t make sense.”
So, he began going to the farmers market at least once a week. Then, once he was hooked on local food, he decided to take ”Eat Local” a step further by making an effort to grow more food in his own backyard. His yard now boasts lemon trees, orange trees, raised vegetable beds, pumpkins, herbs, and apple trees, in addition to the avocado trees.
That’s when Daniel and his wife Lori noticed something new on their walk around the neighborhood: squawking. Some of their neighbors had gotten chickens. Once again, personal connection inspired Daniel to make a change. “Our neighbor showed us that it isn’t hard to have chickens. He really encouraged us and supported us through the process. He even built our coop.”
The Corrys now have five chickens, and they love them. “I can’t imagine getting eggs from the store anymore,” he says. He found that eggs from his own chickens are just as different as fruit from the farmers market. “The yolks are so much brighter and more yellow, and none of our chickens lay those perfectly white eggs you find in the grocery store.” Once again though, it comes down to one thing for Daniel: taste. “Our eggs are just so much better!”
The Corrys also started trading some of their bounty with their neighbors. They swap eggs for honey with a friend who keeps bees, they get chèvre from a neighbor with a goat, and tomatoes come from someone else a few doors down. Bartering has evolved from a nice neighborhood perk into a way to strengthen their community.
Since becoming a locavore, Daniel’s ideas of what he can and should do with his yard have changed. The chickens were just the first step. He wants to try to revamp his raised vegetable beds (the chickens have put that on hold, as they love to take dirt baths), he’s planning on planting more indigenous trees, and he’s thinking of following his neighbor’s lead and getting a goat. He might even get bees.
It’s a progression, though. While he proudly says his dinner last night was local fish from the fish market supplemented with fruits and veggies from his own yard and the farmers market, he admits he still buys bananas from the store and has a hard time breaking his habit of using single-use plastic water bottles. But his heightened awareness of the food he eats has led to changes in other areas of his life, too. He recently installed solar panels in the yard, and is now thinking about swapping out his current car for an electric one.
“What started as a way to support a friend has turned into a new understanding of a whole system,” he says. “I have new priorities and values, especially when it comes to food.”