Through several of the blogs on my new “Local Motive” blog roll, I learned of the Eat Local Challenge. Last August, a group from the San Francisco Bay area called themselves the Locavores and issued this challenge to whoever chose to take it up: For one month, set a goal to eat within a 100 mile radius of your home. This year, the challenge month is May, and I have decided to take up the challenge and share my progress on this blog. You’re welcome to join the Eat Local Challenge too!
Realizing that not everybody lives in a Slow Food heaven such as the Bay area, you are encouraged to set your own goals and guidelines. I entered mine into their database without much thought, and it was published, so if you sign up, you might want to consider your options first. Read through what other people are planning to do. There is a wide range of plans, from folks planning to eat 100% locally, to one who plans to eat only from her state and the states bordering her state, to those who plan to eat one entire meal a week locally.
Here is an excellent set of guidelines for eating well from their website that makes sense for all months of the year.
Guidelines for Eating Well
If not LOCALLY PRODUCED, then Organic. This is one of the most readily available alternatives in the market and making this choice protects the environment and your body from harsh chemicals and hormones.
If not ORGANIC, then Family farm. When faced with Kraft or Cabot cheeses, Cabot, a dairy co-op in Vermont, is the better choice. Supporting family farms helps to keep food processing decisions out of the hands of corporate conglomeration.
If not FAMILY FARM, then Local business. Basics like coffee and bread make buying local difficult. Try a local coffee shop or bakery to keep your food dollar close to home.
If not a LOCAL BUSINESS, then Terroir, which means ‘taste of the Earth’. Purchase foods famous for the region they are grown in and support the agriculture that produces your favorite non-local foods such as Brie cheese from Brie, France or parmesan cheese from Parma, Italy.
Hit the farmers’ market before the supermarket. Plan your meal around local ingredients you find at the market.
Branch out. Maybe your usual food repertoire could use some fresh ideas. The farmers’ market provides a perfect chance to try a new ingredient when it’s in season, and lets you talk to its grower to find out the best way to prepare your new food. Flirt with your food producer!
Feed the freezer. Can’t cook every night? Worried about your fresh produce going bad? It’s easy. Make lasagna with local tomatoes or a soup packed with fresh veggies and freeze it! You can also make personal size meals for a brown bag lunch.
I’ve been blogging in my head (once called “thinking”) about this ever since I found out about the Eat Local Challenge last year, especially during the last three days as I’ve been gearing up my plans for May. I am the only one so far that has signed up from North Carolina, so I challenge my fellow Tarheels to join me and let’s share our sources!
I plan to re-write my goals and exemptions this weekend and post them. It should be a stormy day tomorrow – a perfect day to stay inside and write unless the power goes out! Then I guess I’d have to revert to a curious relic called an “pen” that uses “ink.”