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For New Orleans radio show host, local is a way of life

Kevin Fitzwilliam: Buying local is just common sense.

For Kevin Fitzwilliam, All Things Local isn't just the name of his weekly radio show, it's a way of life. Fitzwilliam co-founded the Hollygrove Market in 2008 and got his start on WGSO 990 AM after appearing as a guest on another show discussing urban farming. A week later, the station called to offer him his own hour-long show on "all things local," and in July 2011 he hit the airwaves.

We've all seen the signs at Rouses about buying local, but I'm sure I am not the only irresponsible consumer who has bought on impulse, without paying attention to where my purchases come from. Luckily, I had the opportunity to sit down with Kevin  (who is also an environmental science teacher) for a lesson on supporting local growers.

Why is it so important to buy locally grown/made products?

For me, it's common sense. It's money changing hands and staying in our community. It's helping farmers sustain their businesses and knowing the source of where your food is coming from. It's decreasing the mileage your food is traveling, which is improving the environmental effect. It's showing people that they can grow or produce their own products and become self sufficient. Most importantly, it's producing creativity in your city and building the sense of community. The food tastes better, you become more educated, and you feel better knowing you aren't part of the problem.

Louisiana is known for its seafood and strawberries, but what is something most people would be surprised that they can find locally?

Anything coming from the ReUse District. Products that once would have become trash from one business are being given to other businesses to be recycled into home decor products, handbags, etc.

I've noticed this movement becoming more popular since Hurricane Katrina. Is this a national trend or was that the springboard for this?

Disasters definitely raise awareness about the importance of shopping local; however, people have been getting their local produce from the Crescent City Farmer's Market since the '90s. This has been a national trend, but the pace here has moved faster. Katrina made our residents reliant on other communities and this was a way for us to become self-sufficient again.

What is the purpose of "All Things Local"? 

The show is informational and a resource for consumers. My hope is that it makes listeners consider the sources of what they buy and the social, environmental, and economical effects of their purchases so we can build a stronger, more creative community. Some upcoming show topics include the drought and rising food prices, stormwater management, school cafeteria food, thriving streets, and food access and price comparisons.

Do you determine where you are going to dine out based on whether or not they use local ingredients, and can you give us some examples of these places?

I make a conscious effort to do so. There are far too many to name, but the Hollygrove website has a list of restaurants that they sell to, so that's a good place to start: http://hollygrovemarket.com/restaurant-partners.

Tune into All Things Local Saturday mornings from 9-10 a.m. on WGSO 990-AM.

Rachael Kostelec writes about New Orleans people and places for NolaVie.