Become a Locavore

Striving to keep your diet coming from growers and distributors within a 100-mile radius not only positively impacts our local economy, it reduces emissions by eliminating the fossil fuels burned by trucks carrying food long distances. Jacksonville’s rich ecosystem and agricultural community have made it a prime location for a diverse rainbow of food and farming that makes it easy to choose local — meaning that making eco-friendly food changes doesn’t have to be either costly or bland.

Local company Stubbees Honey produces a variety of flavored artisanal honeys, such as raw, Madagascar vanilla-creamed honey, which makes going local a sweet decision. Co-founder Justin Stubblefield believes that making small changes to reducing the globalized nature of food consumption can make a big difference.

Every decision you make as a consumer is changing the very landscape of what future generations will have as an option for decades to come,” Stubblefield said. “Trends will always come and go, but movements always create a change to a culture that lasts forever. Eating better and buying local shouldn’t be considered the ‘cool thing to do’ this day and age, but a lifestyle change for our city, and soon, our entire country.”

Calorie Consciousness

Becoming aware of how many calories we consume daily isn’t just a dieter’s concern anymore. Due to a federal mandate, menu labels must be displayed in all restaurants exceeding 20 or more locations. Meaning, blindly ordering a supersized value meal without knowing you’re exceeding your daily suggested daily caloric intake by 150 percent is a thing of the past.

Kathy Godwin, personal trainer and owner of Kathy’s Table, believes our country’s pant size is directly related to our plate size. “Portions are out of control these days. [Even when] cooking at home, most [people] don’t realize what proper portions look like,” she said. “Your body gets used to eating more than it actually needs. If you start training your body to only eat what it needs, you will start to feel completely full off less food.”

Kathy’s Table serves up nutritious precooked and prepared meals that are catered to dietary needs. Featuring five options of personalized meal plans, Kathy covers her customer’s health goals, whether it’s losing weight or bulking up. Looking forward, Godwin hopes to see Jacksonville’s “restaurants offer smaller plates for a smaller price.” Kathy’s Table is introducing a food truck soon with this concept in mind.

Eat Greener 

Consuming more fruits and vegetables has long been known to positively impact your health and possibly the environment. Recently, the trend toward introducing a plant-based diet has left the all-or-nothing realm of strict vegetarianism and veganism and is pushing more towards moderation. Reducetarians, flexitarians and “Meatless Mondays” have recently emerged as gateways toward conscious choice diets with a little wiggle room.

To make it easier, plant-focused menus and vegetarian-friendly options are popping up all around Jacksonville and the surrounding areas. Present Moment Café, a raw, gourmet vegan restaurant located in St. Augustine, successfully caters to a growing crowd willing to forgo the meat.

“It’s amazing the impact of what we do three times a day has on most everything around us,” said Owner Julie Watkins, who supports personal health, animal rights and making a positive environmental impact without forgoing taste. “If you worry about flavor, just give us a try once, and we will convince you that you’re not sacrificing anything to have cleaner air, water and fresher foods.”

Be Aware of the Companies You Buy From

Making a conscious decision to support the companies you buy from should be second nature to every consumer. By advocating with your dollar for things as simple as biodegradable to-go boxes and sustainable practices, businesses receive monetary incentive to make positive changes.

Farms like Congaree and Penn actively work to support “full circle farming,” which uses no synthetic fertilizers and non-organic practices. Lindsay Meyer, co-owner, said buying with intent not only supports the business you buy from, but could be good karma for you as well.

Supporting local businesses, whether they be a farm, a coffee shop, a restaurant or any other local company, keeps capital within the Jacksonville community and helps small businesses thrive,” Meyer said. “In turn, this helps our city grow in innovation, creativity and sustainability.”