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AGRICULTURE REPORT - Locavores Like Their Food Close to Home

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This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

A locavore is someone who eats foods produced locally. Locavores usually define local as within one hundred sixty kilometers. This new term grew out of a reaction to the long distances that food now commonly travels from farm to table.

Local is a popular word these days in food advertising. Some American stores, when they buy locally, however they define it, may even identify the farm.

Ron Samascott organizes apples at a farmers market in New York
Ron Samascott organizes apples at a farmers market in New York

Farmers markets are also popular. These are often held once a week, usually in a big outdoor space. And some people grow their own food at home or in community gardens.

Locally grown food can cost more but locavores find it more satisfying. Not just the taste, but the fact that they are supporting local producers.

And some believe eating local is healthier. This may be true in terms of freshness, but it also depends on how the food was produced.

Restaurants are also joining the local food movement. Last year the National Restaurant Association reported big demand for locally grown produce.

And local food is involved in another movement -- "slow food." The group Slow Food USA is part of the movement that started in Italy in answer to fast food. The aim is to honor the tradition of foods prepared and enjoyed with time and care, like a fine wine.

The city of Sonoma, California, is getting in the spirit of the local food movement. The city is located in the wine-making Sonoma Valley in the San Francisco Bay Area. Next week, the City Council is expected to approve changes to make it easier to raise chickens and rabbits on smaller properties.

No one is sure how many people want to. But anyone with a single family house and a fenced backyard could keep as many as sixteen chickens and eight rabbits. Larger properties could have more. Either way, a permit and inspection would be required.

Residents could sell eggs but not meat -- that is, if the animals are used for meat. City officials did research about other places with similar rules. They learned that people often end up giving their chickens names and treating them like pets.

If that happens, Sonoma residents will have no trouble finding boy names for roosters. Under the proposed new rules, the city will not permit any roosters other than those now living there.

City officials want to avoid early morning wake-up calls for the neighbors. As one Sonoma official explained: "You don't need a rooster to have eggs."

And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. I'm Jim Tedder.

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