Edition One: Seed – available now

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The cover for issue one

Locavore Issue One is available now.

You can subscribe or order issue one here – please support our launch by becoming a Founding Subscriber. As a Founding Subscriber, you will receive up to four extra issues free, a reduced rate for subscribing, plus other benefits, and we will send you a Locavore T-shirt.

Locavore has grown substantially since the first idea for it; with 30 writers and more than 45 contributors, the launch edition clocks in at just under 60,000 words.

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Cover image by Amy Franceschini / Futurefarmers, Flatbread Society Seed Collection, 2013-2016. Image courtesy of the artist.

Extended Feature

a series of essays about local responses to the global seed crisis

We launch Locavore with an extended feature over thirty pages on Seed.

For 12,000 years in farming, not much changed with seed. Seed was saved, swapped and nurtured, passed on from harvest to next year’s planting. We understood its importance, not just as life giver and sustainer, but in variety, story and ritual. Then we started to move from countryside to city. Factories replaced fields. Societies modernised, the old ways were left behind. In technological advance, we forgot our connection to the ancient anchor of seed.

So much so that in the last 100 years we have lost more than 90 per cent of plant genetic diversity across farms globally as growers search for higher yields and uniformity. Today three quarters of the world’s food is generated from twelve plant and five animal species. And just three species – rice, maize and wheat – provide nearly 60 percent of the calories and proteins obtained from plants. The rush toward monoculture has been amplified by GM technology, industrialised farming and the dominance of multi-national seed corporations. And add to those threats a changing climate, increasingly scarce resources, population pressures and our throwaway society.

In giving up our rich, deep diversity, in forgetting traditions and heritage, we are in danger of losing the seed of life itself.

In an extended essay Nicola Miller looks at seed savers and seed swappers, discovering how local communities and activists are rediscovering and protecting traditional seed varieties and the cultures that exist alongside them. Julie Moore interviews David Price of The Seed Co-operative, one of three finalists in this year’s BBC Future Food Award category of the BBC Food and Farming Awards. Fran Burton tells us about seed saving in Ecuador, now under threat from changes in the country’s constitution. And we talk to artist Amy Franeschini about the Flatbread Society in Norway and her recent project, Seed Journey.

Bex Tyers examines how traditional farming practices in Africa are under threat from global corporations. We profile the Svalbard seed bank in Norway, the Millennium Seed Bank at Kew and the work of the Crop Trust. Jane Mason writes about baking with ancient grains from farmers like Gilchester Organics and Doves Farm, while grower John Letts explains how he has nurtured traditional varieties back to crop. Heritage seed supplier Thomas Etty tells us how to select and use landrace and heirloom seeds in our gardens and allotments. And Pat Thomas, former editor of The Ecologist, has the last word on GM technology.



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Something from Nothing: the food of the Faroes Islands
Rachel de Thample on the unique food history and culture of this rugged, rocky archipelago between the North Atlantic and Norwegian Sea, where a new star in the Nordic food movement is beginning to shine.

Meat: an ethical dilemma
Louise Gray spent a year only eating meat from animals that she had killed herself. Then she wrote a book about it to try to understand why she wasn’t simply a vegan. Could she be an ‘ethical carnivore’ and what will persuade us to face up to the reality of factory farming?

The Past Threads the Future:  rediscovering saffron in ancient Spanish fields
By Diego Vivanco. Saffron production was once a major industry in the province of Teruel. After decades of chronic depopulation, the cultivation virtually stopped and the times of splendour were forgotten by families and villages. But after years of neglect, not all is lost. Shrouded in an aura of mystery, this delicate spice is enjoying a comeback thanks to the efforts of three young men.

Harvesting the delicate crocus bulbs in Teruel, Spain to make saffron. © Diego Vivanco

A Chef for all Seasons
Oliver Rowe was one of the first chefs in the UK to define his restaurant through the local provenance of its ingredients. At Konstam in North London, he aimed to source as much as he could from the Greater London area. Through the daily struggle to keep true to his ideal, he developed a keen sense of what local sourcing really involves. And for him, local has little meaning if the seasons are not taken into account. Now a successful author, kitchen consultant and itinerant chef, he tells us what he thinks ‘local’ means.

The Veneto
The idea for Valeria Necchio’s first cookbook, Veneto, came from her desire to tell the story of her family and of the land in which she grew up, and of the food that binds those elements together. It’s a very personal tale of family life and learning about food in a little corner of the Venetian countryside. These personal narratives aside, Valeria wanted also to tell a much bigger story, casting light on that part of the Venetian hinterland she knows well – an area neglected by food writers and overshadowed by La Serenissima, the city in the lagoon, Venice.

The Warp and Weft of the Wild: interview with chef and forager Kieran Jefferson
After twenty years as a chef in busy Bristol kitchens, Kieran Jefferson upped sticks and moved with his partner to a smallholding in Burgundy. Fearing isolation, he has instead found connection in rural France, working out ways to extend his harvest, and planning to make the farm as sustainable and as self-sufficient as possible. (Please note that as a result of this interview, Kieran has joined the Locavore editorial team and will contribute regularly online and in print.)

What Does a Sustainable Diet Look Like?
Mike Small developed the Fife Diet in an attempt to understand and create a sustainable food system. Locavore asked him what he thinks a sustainable diet might be, and to explain how a community project in Scotland could shape the way we grow, produce and eat across Britain and beyond.

Photo Essay: Agrarian Renaissance
A photo story by Walter Lewis, a documentary photographer and researcher. He has travelled around England and Wales seeking out people who have made a choice to produce food in an ethical and sustainable way. In such cases, food production is more often than not locally-focused, community-based, organic or biodynamic, small in scale, biodiverse, low in energy use, low in intervention and high in animal welfare. It is everything that factory farming is not, and produces food of quality and seasonality within, or close to, consuming communities. These are the fresh, young shoots of an agrarian renaissance.

Community growing at Abundant Earth in County Durham, North East England. © Walter Lewis


Columns and Reviews

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First Thought. Rose Prince, chef and writer, on why we need to talk about food.

Opinion: Shane Holland, Chief Executive of Slow Food UK, goes in search of a British terroir.

Stump. Monica Wilde argues the case for foragers, against a backdrop of petential bans and concerns from conservationists. Stump is a regular guest column in which Locavore invites an organisition to put its case: for policy, for ideas or simply for existence. Think of Stump as an opportunity to jump on a soap box and bang your own drum.

Method. Thom Eagle, the innovative chef and writer, on fermentation as controlled decay.

Fermentation requires letting go of two modern fears – of bacteria and of salt. © Thom Eagle

The Art of Eating. Interview with artist, film-maker and storyteller Zev Robinson, about a career marked by its focus on food, artisanal producers and the landscapes they live and work in.

The Politics of Food. Abigail Wincott on frugal foodyism.

Campaign: Real Bread. There has been a quiet revolution in the UK’s bakeries of late: sales of sliced bread wrapped in plastic are falling as people turn to micro and artisan bakers, or make their own. It’s a change driven by a desire to eat bread that is authentic, well-made and free from additives, but above all, to eat bread that just tastes good.

From Slow Dough: Real Bread, RBC’s recipe book. Buy online at sustainweb.org/realbread; all the royalties will support the campaign’s work. Photograph by Victoria Harley.

A Personal Matter. Tracy Worcester, founder of Farms Not Factories, explains why she started campaigning for high welfare pig farming and how by using the power of the purse we can close down inhumane and dangerous factory farms.

Building a Library. Nicola Miller in a regular feature which will look at food narrative in all its forms, with the purpose of providing some unusual and innovative suggestions for your own reading list.

Found, Forgotten & Fallen. Bread, wine and brioche are found on a trip to France & Spain, plus a charming and hugely infomative farming exhibition; Norfolk’s Stiffkey Blue cockle is the forgotten food; and Rubies in the Rubble on food that would otherwise go to waste.

An inside view of the Field to Fork Exhibition. © Holkham Estate.

Insider. Tom Tanner works for the Sustainable Restaurant Association and he uses his unique access to commercial kitchens to bring news of trends and developments.

A Life Less Packaged. Catherine Conway asks what packaging says about us.

Skills. Sara Ward of Hen Corner writes about her urban smallholding in West London.

It was cooking for her first child that set Sara Ward on a journey of exploration about the provenance of the ingrediets that she used; a journey that led her to create her own urban smallholding where she now teaches Londoners to be more self-sufficient. © Sara Ward

What’s in a Label? Each issue we take a look at a food label or certification scheme, explaining its ins and outs. This issue, Pasture for Life.

My Working Week. Josiah Lockhart, General Manager at Edinburgh’s Gorgie City Farm.


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