Monday, June 8, 2009

Local Food Challenge!!

So, while I'm here at my computer, I'm going to start something that I've been thinking about for a while. I've been reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and enjoying it immensely. In the book, Ms. Kingsolver documents her family's year-long project of buying all locally grown food and growing much of that themselves.
It seems that Americans have no real food culture. We buy whatever we want, whenever we want, and we don't really understand where food comes from. Because of that, we as a nation have an unhealthy relationship to our food. We take it for granted, we overconsume, etc. Buying real food from our local farmers is a step in the right direction toward healing that unhealthy relationship.
It's summertime, the farmers' markets are bountiful, and it seems a particularly great time to begin the journey of eating all local foods (at least as much as possible). We in the Callahan household are going to do a month-long local food challenge, and I invite you and your households to join us!
I'm still working out all the kinks, but this is what I have so far:
1. The challenge will commence on July 1 and will last the entire month of July. This gives us a little time to digest what changes are going to have to happen before we begin and also find what resources we are going to have to have at our disposal.
2. We will do our best to buy and consume only locally grown foods; however, sometimes our staples are not available to us, but they are somehow processed locally. If a food is imported and then locally turned into something that can count as a local product, then it will work. Take bananas, for example. Since bananas are not grown locally and nothing else happens to them once they are imported, we can't have bananas during the challenge. Now, take coffee--though coffee is not grown locally (and I'm pretty sure that coffee is not grown in the US?), but we can find coffee that is locally roasted and ground, that will work for this challenge. I might think the same way about bread bought at my neighborhood bakery or the chocolate at my neighborhood chocolate shop.
3. The Callahans like to eat out occasionally. During July, we are going to dine out no more than once per week, and when we do so, it will be only at a non-chain restaurant (something we do our best to do anyway) and hopefully at a place that primarily uses local foods.
4. When discussing this idea with a friend, the question was posed, "What about flour that I already have in my house before the challenge begins?" I don't know at this point what to say about that. I think that my response is going to be that we'll probably all tweak our rules according to our own thoughts and needs, but I'm going to do my best not to use my flour or sugar or olive oil that I have in possession. I don't know what that means for my baking needs (not that I bake that often). I know that Ms. Kingsolver was able to find wheat flour that was locally ground. I may have to look into some substitutes or amend my rule. ;)

Okay, these are the rules that we've set here for our family. I'd like to invite you to amend as you see fit for your family but keeping in mind the main goal, which is to support our local farms and local food traditions. I'd also like to propose that if you "cheat," let's share those experiences. Let's not judge. Instead, let's analyze the situation and talk about why the "alternative choice" happened, how it could've been avoided, etc.
I would also like to recommend that you read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle if you have not already. The book gives great insight as to why a person might want to take on a challenge like this.
So, who would like to sign up first? Do you have any suggestions? Do you have resources to share? Meal ideas to share? I may also set up a facebook group so that we can all keep in touch and share our progress a little easier. I'll let you know if that happens.
I hope you'll join me!

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