Eat Local Challenge

6 Jul

All ready to stir-fry my local farmers market veggies!

As I continue my 30-Day Locavore project, I wanted to share a great resource if you’re interested in trying it yourself. Check out the Eat Local Challenge, a group blog written by authors who are interested in the benefits of eating food grown and produced in their local foodshed.

Spanning the United States, the group is committed to challenging themselves to eat mainly local food during a specific period of time during the year. Why do they choose to eat local? Check out their 10 reasons, below. The website also has a lot of great tips and resources for your own Eat Local Challenge.

Eating local means more for the local economy.  According to a study by the New Economics Foundation in London, a dollar spent locally generates twice as much income for the local economy.  When businesses are not owned locally, money leaves the community at every transaction.  (reference)

Locally grown produce is fresher.  While produce that is purchased in the supermarket or a big-box store has been in transit or cold-stored for days or weeks, produce that you purchase at your local farmer’s market has often been picked within 24 hours of your purchase.  This freshness not only affects the taste of your food, but the nutritional value which declines with time.

My fresh tomatoes simmer into a beautiful marinara sauce

Local food just plain tastes better.  Ever tried a tomato that was picked within 24 hours?  ‘Nuff said.

Locally grown fruits and vegetables have longer to ripen. Because the produce will be handled less, locally grown fruit does not have to be “rugged” or to stand up to the rigors of shipping.  This means that you are going to be getting peaches so ripe that they fall apart as you eat them, figs that would have been smashed to bits if they were sold using traditional methods, and melons that were allowed to ripen until the last possible minute on the vine.

Eating local is better for air quality and pollution. In a March 2005 study by the journal Food Policy, it was found that the miles that organic food often travels to our plate creates environmental damage that outweighs the benefit of buying organic from farther away. (reference)

Buying local food keeps us in touch with the seasons.  By eating with the seasons, we are eating foods when they are at their peak taste, are the most abundant, and the least expensive.

Delicious fresh fruit and lemon tart with homemade crust - eat your heart out La Madeleine!

Buying locally grown food is fodder for a wonderful story. Whether it’s the farmer who brings local apples to market or the baker who makes local bread, knowing part of the story about your food is such a powerful part of enjoying a meal.

Eating local protects us from bio-terrorism.  Food with less distance to travel from farm to plate has less susceptibility to harmful contamination. (reference)

Local food translates to more variety.  When a farmer is producing food that will not travel a long distance, will have a shorter shelf life, and does not have a high-yield demand, the farmer is free to try small crops of various fruits and vegetables that would probably never make it to a large supermarket.  Supermarkets are interested in selling “Name brand” fruit: Romaine Lettuce, Red Delicious Apples, Russet Potatoes.  Local producers often play with their crops from year to year, trying out Little Gem Lettuce, Senshu Apples, and Chieftain Potatoes.

Supporting local providers supports responsible land development. When you buy local, you give those with local open space – farms and pastures – an economic reason to stay open and undeveloped.

Download a printable version (pdf) of this guide

Check out the Facebook page of Eat Local Challenge

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4 Responses to “Eat Local Challenge”

  1. We*Meat*Again July 7, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    What a fantastic blog concept! I’m so glad I stumbled across your work, here and on your website, Shelley. As someone who also seeks to live consciously, I really appreciate the idea of a way to take that on one small step at a time. I’m sure it will make it a more sustainable shift in world view, too.

    My own areas of interest make me particularly taken with the eating local challenge, and I love how succinctly you summarize the reasons for it here. Focusing on the great story behind the food is one of my favorite, and one of the least appreciated, perks of being a locavore.

    • Shelley Seale July 7, 2011 at 9:45 am #

      Thanks! I hope to share some direct interviews with some of my favorite “eat local” places. And I love your handle – “We Meat Again” – terrific!

  2. Jay Geneske July 7, 2011 at 11:44 am #

    Congrats and best of luck! I’m doing a similar thing over at http://localme.tumblr.com.

  3. Chandler July 8, 2011 at 1:25 am #

    Okay i’m a little upset you didn’t tell me about the tart you made. I WANT SOME! it looks amazing!!!

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