Yes Your Diet Affects the Planet: How to Eat Locally in Flagstaff


How Does Diet Affect the Planet?

A recent study concluded that if every American could cut beef out of their diet (just beef) we could reduce our greenhouse gas emissions significantly enough to reach the emissions reductions goals that our country had agreed to in the Paris climate accord. I’m not allowed to write about politics, so that’s not what this is about. Think of it as setting your kids up with a diverse palette. Regardless of how you feel about climate change, think of this as an experiment in self-reliance: a nutrient dense, resilient and affordable makeover for your meal plan. 

What the H-E-double-hockey-sticks is a Locavore? 

You’ve heard of veganism and vegetarianism (you’ve probably heard more than you wanted. These two groups are notorious for using their dietary choices as an introduction to a lecture.) You’ve probably heard about the Paleo diet and the Keto diet and hundreds of other trendy food-related-buzzwords. So now there are Locavores too?! Well, it’s actually an extremely old concept. 

Locavore: a person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown and produced food. 

That’s pretty old-fashioned. 

Ok, why though? 

The food we eat has an undisputed impact on our bodies and our environment. It’s our most direct connection to the earth. Yet very few Americans have any idea where their food comes from. Take a look in your fridge.

Where did this stuff really come from? How was it grown? Did it grow on a tree or inground? Can you even pronounce all the ingredients? What chemicals were involved in the process and how might those chemicals affect kids?

Chances are, you don’t really have much confidence in the food you are feeding your children. Food that travels (and everything in the grocery store is shipped from somewhere else) has a larger carbon footprint and is less nutrient dense than food that is fresh. 

Eat Local! It’s healthy, eco-friendly, and… fun? 

As an adult, dietary changes are difficult, almost impossible. As parents, we owe our children the opportunity to try everything. We owe them a better food-education than we got.  And Flagstaff is a surprising excellent place for this. 

Fall Harvest Adventures for Families

Lobster Mushrooms

Harvesting and eating wild mushrooms sounds shady as heck. But these dense orange ‘shrooms are easy to identify, grow all over Northern Arizona and sell for so much some Flag locals make a living scavenging for them. Supposedly they taste like lobster but I’ve never tried lobster so I can’t verify. The best time to hunt for these guys is usually earlier in monsoon season.




Creek-Side Blackberries 

Any of our nearby creeks (Beaver Creek, Oak Creek, Fossil Creek,) are surrounded by wild blackberry brambles. Multi-task on your creek trips, make a splash, pick some food, get your babies all sticky. It’s great. 





Lonely Dell Ranch at Lee’s Ferry

While it’s a bit of a drive, this orchard holds a special place in my heart. My husband and I met on a river trip that embarked from Lee’s Ferry and we harvested fresh fruit to bring down the river with us. We try to make an annual trip up there. To pay our respects the place where it all began, and to collect fruit. The Colorado river at Lee’s Ferry is too cold and swift for swimming, but that doesn’t stop our tot from making a splash in the shallows. 

Other Local Food Resources: 

Flagstaff Farmers Market 

Ever Sunday May 15- October 15 in the city hall parking lot AND every Wednesday June 21-September 6 at Pine Forest School

Flagstaff CSA 

CSA stands for community supported agriculture. You can buy a share or just shop the market. 

Tepa Burgers 

The only locally produced, ultra-delicious, bean-based meat substitute. Unfortunately not very affordable but definitely worth it.

For the Grown-ups: 

Did you know we have vineyards in Northern Arizona? A wine tasting in Page Springs is THE BEST day trip date. 

Arizona-Made Products 

Hot Sauce and Tortillas 

Grains and Crackers

A Few Recipes: 

Root vegetables grow really well in Northern Arizona, but if you didn’t grow up eating them, it’s hard to know what to do with them.

Roasted Beets with Polenta 

1/2 onion
3 beets (with greens)
olive oil
1 cup stone ground corn
3 cups water

Preheat the oven to 400, wrap beetroots in tin foil and bake until tender, about 40-50 minutes.

Meanwhile sauté onions and beet stems in olive oil, steam beet greens.

Bring water to a boil and slowly add cornmeal/polenta, stirring constantly until done.

Put it all in a bowl and enjoy!

Loaded Sweet Potatoes

If you buy a share in the CSA you will likely get several sweet potatoes every week. 

cooked beans (black or tepary)
olive oil
chipotle powder
optional toppings: fresh arugula, poached egg, plain yogurt, avocado (not local, but so yum.)

Stab potatoes repeatedly with a fork and bake at 450 until tender (usually 40-50 minutes). Meanwhile sauté onion and garlic, add beans and spices. When the potatoes are done slice them down the middle and pile on beans. Even toddlers approve.

Are you a locavore? How do you eat local?