Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Local Food Month challenge

Local Food Month - July 2007So, you've done Low Impact Week and you're still continuing with some of the things you tried out. You feel good about reducing your energy and water consumption and your garbage output. What's next? Well, let's focus on the food now.

There's so much energy expended in buying food not grown, produced or packaged locally. For those of you following along with the Omnivore's Dilemma Book Club, you've read the statistics. You may still be troubled by the idea of eating organic versus local. Either way, you can't deny that buying fruits and vegetables from thousands of miles away consumes a whole lot of petroleum products.

Now, here's the challenge:

During the month of July you're going to increase your consumption of locally and sustainably grown food and decrease your consumption of imported and packaged food. You choose the level of participation you want to do.

Think of this as an a la carte menu - you can pick as many or as few items to focus on.

Eat local:
  • produce (fruits and vegetables)
  • dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese)
  • meats and seafood
  • breads and grains
Limit:
  • pre-packaged food
  • frozen food
  • fast food
Make your own:
  • cereals
  • pastas
  • breads
  • soymilk
  • yogurt
FAQs
What about beer, wine and spirits? Well, that's up to you. You can continue buying your regular brands of beverages or you can see if you can find a local equivalent.

What is considered "local"? Again, you have a choice. You can follow the "100 mile" yardstick, but I know a lot of you don't have growers in your area. So, for those that have few resources, you can choose your "region", whether that be your entire state or including neighboring states. One thing to do to see what's available in your area is to check out the list of farmer's markets nearest you.

Does this mean all day, every day? It's up to you. If you want to have Saturdays off, go for it. Do you want to limit it to dinners only, that's great. Set up something you think is workable for you. I want you to think about what you are putting in your mouth, but I don't want to make it so onerous that you give up. Each individual is different, so decide for yourselves how far you want to take it. Or start slow and work your way up to being more involved by the end of the month.

What else? Take into consideration how things are grown. If possible, opt for food items that are grown organically over conventional methods. Or at least without chemicals. Find out if your meat producer practices rotational grazing. Make sure your fish is acquired from a sustainable fishery and only buy farmed seafood that is sustainable.

Considering it's summer and there's lots of food in season, the produce part shouldn't be too hard to do. However, if you still must have that avocado for your guacamole and the limes for your margaritas, well, it's up to you.

The goal is to try and to let you see how easy it is to add local products to your diet and, hopefully, get you in the habit of shopping at those farmer's markets and farmstands. In addition, depending on what level you are doing, you will become more aware of where your packaged foods come from.

Like during Low Impact Week, I'll be adding a list of links to fellow bloggers so we can see what everyone else is up to. Go ahead and grab the graphic if you want to co-sponsor this or participate on your blog. I hope that with the encouragement of each other we can keep the momentum of Low Impact Week going!

36 comments:

EPM said...

Sounds great. Count us in again!

kelley said...

weird, i was just thinking of doing this soon, anyway. i'm throwing my hat in!

KMH said...

I'm in.
KMH

AnandaDevika said...

I'm in! We've got a nice selection of farmers markets here, and the grocery store near my house offers local products as well (milk, herbs, etc).

Anonymous said...

Count me in!! This is right up my alley!!!

Denise in TN
earthwomyn06

tcarey said...

Count me and husband in! This is great motivation for us, and coincidentally our local public radio station (CBC Edmonton) is following a family doing the 100 mile diet for a year hear in Edmonton. So a lot of the research about local producers has been done for us, and we will be able to jump right in! Plus we planted our own small square foot garden earlier this month, which will be fun to eat from later in the season.

Thanks for all these motivational things you do, Crunchy C!

QT said...

I will definitely participate. I was going to wait until August, but heck, might as well start now!

Wendy said...

I am so in. This gives me a good reason to get off my butt and start researching what's available. (And, lucky me, my husband already makes beer and it's goooood!)

Glad you're waiting till July - I'll be back from vacation!

Dana said...

Oh dear... I would love to do this but I'm not sure how best to tackle it right now. The produce part is pretty easy; in fact the biggest triumph of LIW for me was that I got a CSA share when I thought everyone was already sold out. The farm is 106 miles away but we live in a major city so I'm not going to be pedantic. :-) And I have a container garden that should be producing soon.

But how do you find local grains and beans? I do make my own bread about half the time, and I cook 80% of our food from scratch but I have no idea where the dry goods actually come from. Meat, eggs, and milk are even worse because this pair of grad students really can't afford any of the organic/free range varieties. In fact we just went over our budget and decided we have to cut back in groceries. My husband really likes his animal proteins but he also eats tofu and soy milk quite happily, so he agreed to cut our meat eating back to 2 or 3 days a week; even then, if I try to buy local, I'll blow whatever I was supposed to be saving.

I don't mean to be whiny and I know this kind of lifestyle change is difficult for everyone... I just want to participate because I love the idea and appreciate the community but I'm not sure what additional steps I can afford to take right now. I suppose we could take the negative tack of NOT eating whatever ISN'T local... I've been meaning to read the Omnivore's Dilemma, and suspect that when I'm done, I won't want to eat meat at all. :-)

Sorry about the rant. I'm trying to figure out how to balance earth-friendliness with frugality with keeping someone else's palate happy. Fortunately I have plenty of free time right now, and am welcoming suggestions from those of you who have been sorting out these issues longer than I have.

shawn said...

Love it! I really like that you make this attainable for anyone and aren't an all-or-nothing girl. It makes these challenges approachable and an encouragement. I didn't leave a follow-up comment in regards to low-impact week, but am happy to report we made some small permanent changes around our house, and have purchased cloth bags for groceries, and make many more thought-through decisions about our consumption. Thank you for encouraging that!

Dana said...

I realized that most of my comments over here have been rather depressed and negative... I just wrote up a post with a more positive assessment of what the whole environmentalist project means to me, if anyone's interested. :-) http://magicalrealist.blogspot.com/2007/06/environmental-thoughts.html

KMH said...

I forgot to mention. . . I really like the logo.
KMH

Michelle Verges, Project Director said...

Yes, count me in, too! :0)

By the way, I ordered the DivaCup today. Thanks again for the inspiration!

:0)
M

nichole said...

Dana-- you and me both, Sister! I think this is an important experiment we'll be doing...there must be a way to live sustainably and on a budget.

Chicken--see you at the Sunday market! I'll be the one hoarding the rhubarb. mmm pie!

Crunchy Chicken said...

Nichole - I'll be the one fondling the Foraged & Found Edibles (mmmm.... morels).

Isle Dance said...

Wonderful. I'll do it just for the pretty logo alone! Does this post count as me signing up?! I'm signing up! I'm signing up!

One thought regarding seafood: Research now appears to show the significant toxins that fish farming can introduce directly into our food/environment. Of course, everyone must research and decide their own parameters, but just wanted to toss that in as a heads up.

Debbie said...

I'm in! In fact, I'm pretty much trying to do this already, but like Dana I'm not sure where to find locally grown beans and grains. My CSA and farmer's market will cover the produce nicely, but I'm going to have to search for the other stuff.

The Purloined Letter said...

Excellent! I'm in. We've been "practicing" for the September Eat Local month, and for the weekly One Local Summer--and are itching at the bit. Great timing!

Christy said...

I've been reading a book called The Way We Eat and he has an interesting discussion about eating local and how often times it isn't more environmentally friendly, depending on how the food was raised locally and how the imported food was shipped. I've never read anything saying eating local may not be the best thing to do. I still plan on eating locally as much as possible but if anyone is interesting in hearing another viewpoint, you might want to check it out.

Oldnovice said...

I'll be visiting my No. 2 daughter in July as well as some ecologically astute friends and the Farmer's Market is already on my list of "things to do", so we'll be supporting this on my blog, as well.

Crunchy Chicken said...

christy - I would argue that eating local could potentially be much worse than eating something shipped in. As you mention, it all depends on how the food was produced. By "eating local" there is an implicit assumption that you are not purchasing from an agro-giant who happens to be local to you, nor should it suggest that the "local" producer is better even if they use conventional growing methods.

Sometimes it's a trade-off and you have to make a decision based on not just locality, but how things were produced and/or transported. And sometimes it's just a toss-up.

deliberately said...

CC -
We're in. Not much effort, because we were already moving in that direction. As for the wine and beer question, challenge folks to look for it locally. I'm in Memphis and there are two wineries here that use mostly locally produced grapes. Who would have thought?

As for coffee, well, that one's a bit more difficult.

Our Lovely Life said...

I'm in!! I've been thinking about doing this for awhile. We are trying to save money, so hopefully this will help! I just found a farmers market not to far away from my house and they sell produce, bread and meat from local farmers!! I'm going to check it out today!!

Christy said...

I agree with you but often times when people talk about eating local they do make it sound like local is the end all be all. I hear very little discussion about seeing how the local foods were produced. If you are buying local tomatoes were they grown in a fossil fuel heated greenhouse? Questions like that are rarely addressed. And I've never heard anyone but you say anything about what to do if the giant farms are local to you. Food is a very complicated thing and I think some people over simplify by saying eat local without getting into the rest of it.

I'm not trying to be negative or say this is a bad idea, I do plan to participate, I just think it is something that should be talked about in more detail by more people.

And to be honest, until I read that book, I'd never given a thought to the idea that something produced locally might have used more fossil fuels than something shipped in. I think it is important to be aware of that.

Crunchy Chicken said...

christy - I'll be going into more detail in future posts before Local Food Month begins about how to choose local over your other options. I didn't want to discuss it too much in the initial post - it was becoming long enough :)

But you have a very valid point, one which I'll bring up as it's own discussion item soon. This is something that definitely needs to be aired out before people begin.

Thanks again!

Piddler said...

I have not read Carnivore's Dilemma, but am now reading Barbara Kingsolver's book about local eating called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and am enjoying it and learning a lot.

I picked the last of the strawberries today at my local U-pick farm and I'm getting ready, for the first time in my life, to put them up as strawberry preserves. Picking them was fun and they are way better than the strawberry giants we find at the grocery around here.

Also just ordered a cheese-making kit from www.cheesemaking.com to try my hand at making mozzarella from milk (in the process of trying to find local milk). Barbara Kingsolver says it takes less time to make a pound of mozzarella cheese than it takes to bake a cobbler. And I think it sounds fun.

I already found an organic vegetable grower/egg lady who also "processes" free-range chickens once a month. Actually, I drive past this place all the time, but finally stopped and I love it.

For Christmas, I'm looking in to purchasing half or a quarter of freezer beef to split with my siblings so we can all have locally raised, grass fed beef next winter.

The gist here is, once you start reading about local foods, you'll be surprised how much good stuff you can make or find right in your neighborhood. It's neat to know the people who are producing your food. I need a bumper sticker on my car that says I Brake For Home Raised Food Stuffs.

Meghan said...

If AD is in, I'm in. Mmmmm local produce.

Chile said...

We'd been talking about this and planning to move that direction. So, I'm in with a small caveat. Our plan is to not replace the packaged and frozen food as we use it up, but we do need to use it up.

Lrapps said...

Crunchy,
I"m on board and can't wait! Thank you for your inspiration!
Lrapps

Ginny said...

I love that you challenge us! We are going to jump into this one too. Thank you for your inspiration.

Stefani said...

Count us in! So excited to see what this brings to our family. Thanks for the inspiration to jump in!

GreenChick said...

I am in! It will be a little difficult becuase South Florida has a completely different growing season than most of the country. We will focus on homeade foods, going to The Boy's Market (the only local produce and meat market open this time of year), eating fresh veggies from my potted plant garden, and no fast food or take out.

Late Bloomer said...

Count me in!

Sounds like a lot of fun and an opportunity to share a few learnings around food preservation so we can continue eating local this winter.

Thanks!
LB

Potions said...

Better late than not-at-all ... and eating locally is something that I've been trying to do of late, anyway. Very cool.

Kate G. said...

Love the challenge. We've been doing a CSA for 7 years and that really changed the way I saw food on my plate. I've been challenged again after reading Kingsolvers new book and now spend time in the market asking where my food came from. It's a new challenge and frustrating at time, but glorious in knowing who spent the time creating my food.

Lissa said...

Hello again, looking over the comments section for other local challengers, I saw my original comment and realised that my newness to blogger resulted in a screwy little comment. You have me listed as Potions in your sidebar -- if you'd like a blog link, you can use this one: http://ecogeekery.blogspot.com/.

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