Has “Locavore” Jumped the (Sustainably-Raised, Organic Chum-Fed) Shark?


In 2007, “locavore” was named word of the year by the Oxford New American Dictionary. The concept was heartily endorsed by literary giants such as Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver. As Leah previously posted, even Walmart has gotten on board!

But now, for the second time this week, the NYTimes has “discovered” the local food movement, but now with a new twist: According to today’s article, there is a company out in San Francisco (aka Alice Watersworld) that will plant, tend and harvest an organic garden in your own backyard. Not figuratively. Your. Yard.

My crotchety middle-aged man side says, “In my day, if you wanted a fresh tomato, you went down to the ShopRite and you bought it! If you wanted a backyard garden, you planted it yourself! Bah humbug!”

But most of of me is saying, “Where can I find someone to do this for me, here in New York???”

What do you think? Will Lazyvore be the Word of the Year in 2008, or is this an idea with real potential for helping many more people eat healthily and sustainably while improving their communities in the process?

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7 Responses to “Has “Locavore” Jumped the (Sustainably-Raised, Organic Chum-Fed) Shark?”

  1. Melinda Says:

    I don’t think what’s going on with the Times is “discovery” as much as it is reporting on the yuppification of the food movement. And I do think there’s a story there – certainly as a rural dweller some of what’s been going on in the cities does surprise me and I wouldn’t have known about things like people hiring gardeners to put food plots in their backyard if it hadn’t been for their reporting.

    As for whether or not it’s a good thing, I figure most of these people wouldn’t otherwise be gardening for themselves, growing veggies is better than growing lawns, and basically if these people are going to conspicuously consume something, better it should be fancy vegetable gardens for landscaping than any number of other things I can think of.

  2. Simcha Daniel Burstyn Says:

    Sign me up!

    As long as there is a money economy, this kind of service is almost the best we can hope for.

    I can make one suggestion – make it a co-op/CSA style thing, where members can volunteer their time and help in each others’ gardens. To maintain the business model, there would nevertheless have to be a base fee, so that the volunteering can only pay for up to 10-15%.

  3. Asher ben Avraham Says:

    Rich white people paying others to feed them and tend their properties. What’s so new about that? The NYTimes specializes in reporting on and for this demographic, so we shouldn’t be surprised they ‘discovered’ the locavore movment (even if it is not new at all.) Nonetheless, it’s a great idea. it will provide jobs for some people with gardening skills and perhaps encourage others to rethink their backyards or rooftops or patios. Of course, its all good until the lawsuits start happening – “you promised me 2 bushels of tomatoes and kale til November and all I got were these wormy radishes!!!”

  4. Kerr Says:

    Well, some people aren’t going to plant a garden themselves because they don’t know how and it seems like too big a risk to invest all that time and money with no prior experience. Gardening can be expensive to get started, even just to do it on your own, especially if you include labor. If you’ve never done it before, you have no idea how it will pay off. You can tell some people over and over “rip up your lawn! plant vegetables!” but to them it’s like saying “quit your job and paint a masterpiece!”

    When it’s happening in their own yard, most people will have no excuse not to get involved, and they’ll learn how to do it themselves almost by accident. It will be much easier next year to be doing it on their own. And in the meantime they will probably have provided some of their crops to the MyFarm CSA, which will help other people who don’t have land to garden in.

    This is distributed farming, like SETI@home is distributed computing, and I’m surprised if this is the first example. It really irritates me that many people are characterizing the people who would use this service as lazy yuppies. Maybe some of them are. But we’re not characterizing all CSA members as lazy yuppies, and probably a lot of us are, too. It’s one more way the vast majority of people in the industrialized world pay other people to do the farming for them, but at least it’s probably a more equitable arrangement than the other lazy yuppies among us who get our “organic” tomatoes from Florida via SafeWay or similar.

    Now, I could wish they were doing it as a non-profit, but that’s because I’m a non-profit geek and think that asking people to volunteer for a for-profit business is a little suspect. On the other hand I suspect these folks would rather dig than write grant applications, and I don’t blame them. If it’s as hard to monetize as I suspect it will be, they may end up going to a non-profit anyway… but maybe they’ll get rich and people in major cities everywhere will start imitating them, which can only be a good thing.

  5. phyllis Says:

    i think whatever gets people in the door…so be it.

  6. gp Says:

    NY times.. .re-invents the wheel.. yet again

    gp in montana

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