Locavores, people who seek out locally grown foods, want to cut energy use by reducing the distance their food travels to their plates. The rule of thumb is that most produce is transported 1,500 miles to market; local foods travel fewer than 100 miles.
The concept works best for people who live in places with warm climates and lots of farms, such as California. For residents of most other states, going local takes more effort. In winter, root vegetables, some hothouse-grown foods, and canned and frozen produce have to suffice.
Ideally, we'd always buy fresh fruits and vegetables at the height of their growing season because they're better and cheaper -- tomatoes and berries in summer and citrus fruits and leafy greens in winter, for example. But it's not always easy -- especially in winter.
One approach is to make menus seasonal whenever possible and then augment them with preserved goods. High-quality frozen, canned, and jarred produce is increasingly available in stores, and home canning is making a comeback. In addition, more local growers are preserving and freezing peak produce and selling it at winter farmers' markets.
Chef and restaurateur Alice Waters has devoted her career to the idea of a green kitchen, spreading the message of "slow food" and sustainability to restaurants across the country.
On "The Martha Stewart Show," Alice and Martha discussed sustainable cooking with three chefs featured in Alice's latest book, "In the Green Kitchen" -- Scott Peacock, Bryant Terry, and Cal Peternell. Watch the video to see what they had to say.
Visit LocalHarvest.org to find a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program near you. To become a member of a CSA, you pay up front for an entire season's worth of produce from a local farm; then, you pick up your goods -- whatever's in season and currently being harvested in your area -- about once a week. If you eat a lot of fruits and vegetables in your household (or are looking for easy ways to add more), a CSA can save you time and money, and guarantee you fresh, flavorful options.
Now that you're paying attention to where your food comes from, shouldn't you do the same for what you're drinking? Even if you don't have vineyards in your backyard, for example, you can still make ecologically responsible decisions about the wine you choose based on how far it has to travel. The same goes for beer, juice, and, of course, water (choose filtered tap over bottled).