The 10-day Local Food Challenge is open to anyone. Find out more at http://localfoodchallenge.org

Individual eaters:

If you choose to engage in this first 10-day Local Food Challenge, sign up, then, choose your eating range, exotics and time frame and register your intention by liking and following the Local Food Challenge Facebook Page. Join the Facebook Group to enter the discussion. Introduce yourself: your chosen dates and radius and exotics, your reasons for signing on. Post your questions, photos, stories, shout-outs to your community food system. Click the Get Involved Button [TK] on the right to be connected with the global grassroots research community and get all the news and updates. If you tweet, use #10daylocalfoodchallenge. You can share a link to this website with friends around the world, inviting them to sign up and join the experiment.

Groups:

Invite friends in your community to join you. It’s perfect for a church group, a club, a service organization, a social action team, a Grange or Slow Food group – it’s more fun and powerful to share the hunt for food sources, local recipes, and discoveries.

How long will you go?

This campaign suggests 10 days. Why?

If you are totally new to local eating, if there is little local food in your markets or grown around, then a good faith effort to eat, for even just one day, from your 100 miles will open your eyes – and let us see through your eyes how far from local your location is. You’ll be surprised at what you can find. And your reports will help everyone understand the problems and delights with our food system.

Any amount of time is worth it; ten days, though, is a good goal. It’s long and hard enough to put you through the whole transformative process, the self-discovery, the new skills and relationships, the empowerment and ultimately the deeper caring about your place and people.

It’s not so long, though, that you can’t fit it into your busy life.

If you go on trips during your 10-day challenge, you can divide your time in two – do 10 days at home however long that takes. Or you can keep it going but consider wherever you are as the center of your eating circle.

How local will you go?

This 2014 10-Day Local Food Challenge Pilot suggests 100 miles as the crow flies (not as the windy roads go). Why?

One hundred miles is a hefty eating radius. Even in the heart of Manhattan, 100 miles gets you far up the Hudson Valley, deep into Pennsylvania, out to the Hamptons on Long Island. Hundreds of Farmers’ Markets dot that landscape. There’s a lot of food!

Get out your Google Map. Draw your 100-mile circle. This cool tool helps. Ask a search engine to find the Farmers’ Markets in your eating radius. See if you now feel okay with this eating radius.

If 100 miles doesn’t seem do-able, pick a radius that will stretch you without breaking you.

If 100 miles seems too easy, well, try for 50. Or 25. Or 10. Home gardeners can register for a 1-mile or 1-acre or 100-feet diet. Up to you.

And if you still can’t find enough food from your region for your 10-Day Local Food Challenge, this is very important information! It tells us what’s missing. Armed with this information, we’ll all be empowered to ask our grocers, restaurateurs and congress-people to support the amount and types of local food produced in our eating radius.

What will you eat?

We all eat, every day. Most of us do so many times. Current food categories might be: “expensive.” “fast.” “healthy.” “fattening” – but few of us have taken “local” as a focus.

Local eaters start by surveying what they currently eat, and then seeing how much actually grows in their eating radius. Here’s a checklist of food categories to help you think about foods you might want to find for your 10-day experiment.

  1. Vegetables:
    1. Roots (potatoes, carrots, beets, etc)
    2. Leaves (lettuce, kale, etc)
    3. Flowers (broccoli, artichoke)
    4. Seeds and nuts
  2. Fruits:
    1. Trees (Peaches, Plums Apples, Pears)
    2. Berries
    3. Vines: Melons
    4. Citrus/Tropical
  3. Seasoning:
    1. Herbs
    2. Spices
    3. Salt
  4. Dairy
    1. Milk
    2. Cheese
    3. Yogurt
    4. Butter
  5. Meat:
    1. Chicken
    2. Beef
    3. Pork
    4. Lamb
    5. Fish
    6. Shellfish
  6. Grains
    1. Wheat/Kamut/Spelt
    2. Rice
    3. Barley, Quinoa, etc.
    4. Pasta
    5. Crackers
    6. Cookies
  7. Oil
  8. Sweets

 

Where will you find it?

Google is our friend once again. Search for Farmers’ Markets in your eating circle. Search for Farm Stands. A new website, Agrilicious, curates an up to date listing of food and farming resources. If you can’t find what you want, call them. They’ll help you hunt it down. But it’s just a place to begin;   the micro-local food scene is changing so rapidly that you’ll need to confirm sources the old fashioned way: with your own eyes and ears.

Check your grocery store. When in doubt, ask the grocer. Just because something was bottled in Petaluma or Burlington doesn’t mean the ingredients are from Petaluma or Burlington. You decide whether such foods are part of your challenge or not.

Ask around. Especially for not-yet-legal local foods, like udder-direct raw milk or some non-USDA approved cuts of meat or eggs. BTW, don’t tell people about these sources.

Now for exotics

What foods necessary to your health and happiness are missing? Make a list. Prioritize. Pick 10 – or less – as your permitted exotics.

Hint: Five foods make it onto most lists – oil, salt, caffeine, lemons, chocolate – but these may not be your top picks.

Hint: Don’t just say “tropical fruit” – too generic. But you can say caffeine if you drink both tea and coffee regularly.

Hint: Herbs and spices are your dearest friends when your food choices are constrained. Herbs grow everywhere. Spices need tropical climes. What 5 spices do you use most often? Together they can be one exotic.

How do I cook this stuff?

If you don’t normally “cook from scratch,” it may be a mystery how to turn a turnip, an onion and a chicken thigh into dinner. In any search engine, type “recipes by ingredients” and lots of help is on the way. Here’s one tool that popped up with that search. By no means the best or only.

If you do the 10-Day Local Food Challenge with a group of friends, cooking together, learning from one another, sharing food can make it easier, more interesting and fun.

How do I participate in the big 10-Day Local Food Challenge?

It’s okay to just do it. No need to sign up, report or tell anyone! But to join the bigger game…

Register here [form to come].

Like the Facebook Page [here]. Every day you’ll have a chance to post your discoveries, your recipes, your shout outs to your farmers, your frustrations. Definitely post pictures of your farmers, farmstands, food, friends around the table.

[Sign up tk] for for Challenge updates, including some of the most interesting brief posts from the Facebook group.

Then what?

As a community we’ll learn about what works – and doesn’t – in a local food challenge like this. We’ll learn about ourselves, our farmers, our friends, our communities and the relational food system we want. You may change everything – from your mind to your profession to your life!

P.S . Communities across the US have taken up eat local challenges before. Here are but a few. In New Orleans the Eat Local Challenge 2014 provides a lot of resources. http://www.nolalocavore.org/. EcoTrust in Oregon created an eat local challenge too; click here. In Australia there’s the packed resource: http://www.locavored.com/. And Vancouver BC has a current challenge going: http://p2p.causepro.com/chefs/local-food-resources. Slow Food Utah had campaign; http://slowfoodutah.org/eat-local-challenge/. This one was statewide in Hawai’i: http://www.kanuhawaii.org/food/results/. http://www.buylocalrogue.org/ in Southern OR sponsors an eat local week each September.

p.p.s. – Here’s a few other sources I’ve found for finding local food:

  • http://www.eatwellguide.org/i.php?pd=Home
  • http://www.localharvest.org/
  • http://www.ediblecommunities.com/content/resources/resources.htm
  • http://www.extension.umn.edu/rsdp/community-and-local-food/local-food-programs-and-organizations/national/
  • http://eatlocalgrown.com/

p.p.p.s. – There are other eating challenges, of course. Like these. Ours is different. Very different.

 

 

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