Thursday, October 8, 2009

Eat Local Challenge



Is it October already? This is an announcement for the 5th Annual Eat Local Challenge which takes place this month. It's hard to believe that such a simple concept -- eating as much food as possible from local sources -- has taken hold to such and extreme level and has been celebrated by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. I've seen it, and I know that you have too -- these days, everyone is talking about eating local. Many people are starting to see the wisdom in what we at the Eat Local Challenge have been discussing for a while, and it's an exciting thing to watch. 

Why do we choose to eat local? We choose to support local farmers, support our local economies, and to have a lighter footprint on the earth. When eating local is done correctly -- by using smart transportation methods to get to the market, and by combining errands -- it can lower our carbon footprint at the same time that it does great things for our community. 

Each year, we locavores take part in a month-long challenge that focuses on eating locally. This year, as in the past, the level of your eat local challenge is up to you. You can choose to try and eat locally the entire month, or you can introduce it to your family in a gradual way. Many communities take time this month to celebrate eating locally on town level -- a move that I have found to be particularly exciting, as it's a new phenomenon in the past couple years. 

The traditional Eat Local Challenge is a basic concept: commit to eating only locally grown foods for a period of thirty days. Declare "exceptions" that you will not be eating locally, and try as hard as you can to have everything else come from your local foodshed. "Local" is traditionally a 150-mile distance from your home, but can really be defined as any area near you. Some locavores choose their county, state, or region. 

This blog will be focusing on eating locally this month in a very deliberate manner. Here's how we'll be eating locally here at the Eat Local Challenge: 

Week One (through October 9): Taking Stock 

We'll take this week to reassess eating locally. Do the old eat local tenets hold up under a 2009 microscope? Where could we be doing better with eating locally? What should this month hold? 

Week Two (October 10 - 16): Personal Challenges 

How can we personally eat locally in a sustainable manner? What is the "low-hanging fruit" with regard to eating locally that we can easily change during this week? 

Week Three (October 17 - 23): Friends and Family 

Let's take this week to move eating locally out to our families. Can we convince our kids to take local apples to school instead of out-of-season blueberries? Can we ask our spouses to eat locally this week? 

Week Four (October 24 - 31): Taking it to the Community 

Week four will focus on eating locally within our communities. We can host potlucks and eat local parties, we can check in with our schools to hear whether they are supporting local farmers with their buying decisions. 

Let us know that you are participating this year by emailing us. If you have a blog or website where you'll be talking about the Eat Local Challenge, mention it in your email. If you'd like to see your work published here along the themes listed above, submit it at the same email address. Post an Eat Local logo on your site to let your readers know you're participating."