While at my Food Co-op last week shopping for a new Diva Cup - I lost mine, don't ask. - I saw a display for Eat Local America! with a sign up board. I immediately scribbled my name on the sheet and grabbed a packet. On the way home I began to wonder what I had just so hastily signed up for.
The Eat Local America! challenge is hosted by natural food co-ops nationwide, the challenge celebrates our communities’ growing passion for foods grown or produced locally and the farmers, who make it all possible. Participants try to consume 80% of their diets (or four out of five meals) from food grown or produced locally.
My Co-op is hosting the challenge for ten days on an honor-based system. My packet included a pledge sheet with goals ranging from 10% to more than 90% - I think I will shoot for the 80%; a food log with headings for food consumed and its origin; a produce chart showing what is in season each month - May through September; a listing of area CSAs (Consumer Supported Agriculture) and Farmers' Markets; a guide of local and regional foods available at my Co-op; a small recipe booklet for super-easy local meals; and 10 reasons to eat locally.
- Buying local builds trust, and is safer for our families.
- Less fossil fuel is used to transport local foods.
- Local food tastes better.
- Local food is fresher.
- Buying local supports family farms.
- Buying local strengthens the local economy.
- Small farms are better for the environment.
- Eating locally supports biodiversity.
- Eating seasonally puts us in touch with the natural world.
- Local food reflects the real cost of food.
If you are interested in the national Eat Local America! challenge, check with your local food co-op to see if they are hosting. You can also search online at eatlocalamerica.coop. Curious about local foods, but do not know where to start? This would be the place. My co-op had everything I needed to get started in that packet. They have already done the leg work. All I need to do is use my eyes and gray matter to choose the product produced within 150 miles of me and my wallet to make the purchase.
Wisconsin hosts their 2009 Eat Local Challenge September 27 through October 4. October is also the month for another national Eat Local Challenge hosted by eatlocalchallenge.com. Maybe some of you participated last year? This one has been around since 2005. There is nothing posted yet for the 2009 challenge, but keep checking... hopefully something will be up soon.
If there are no challenges near you, make your own! Set a goal and timeframe and just do it. You do not have to go all out. The point of this exercise is just to make you more mindful. For more resources on finding local foods near you check out:
Now go Eat Local America!