Road Rules for the Eat Local Challenge
Due to riotous levels of enthusiasm, I am thrilled to announce the first annual Mighty Appetite Eat Local Challenge! Beginning Saturday, July 19, MA readers across the country will embark on a week-long eating adventure that includes food grown or raised within 100 miles of where they live.
For this inaugural adventure, I challenge you to incorporate 10 food items from your local food shed over the course of the week. If you're having trouble figuring out exactly how far away 100 miles is from your hometown, have a look at this handy mapping tool put together by the 100-Mile Diet folks.
If you've already e-mailed me, you're now a part of the ELC Honor Roll, which will be updated until July 14. During the week of July 14, I'll select five readers from different parts of the country who are interested in chronicling their ELC adventures. (For those getting first whiff of the ELC, send me an e-mail to address above; in the subject line, type "ELC"; in body of your note, include city, state and size of household.)
Even though the ELC is still a few weeks away, it's a good idea to take stock of both your pantry and your eating habits now. Consider jotting down a typical week in the life of your kitchen -- the food and drink that makes its way into your home and onto your table -- and put a little star next to items that qualify as local. Next, scan the list for items that you generally don't buy from a local source but could if you made the effort or got creative -- and make some other kind of notation. Finally, note the items that are not local in the slightest and will remain part of your diet no matter what -- these are your exceptions -- things like coffee, chocolate, oil and salt.
With your pantry dissected and analyzed, now you can ask yourself how difficult (or easy) it will be to incorporate 10 100-mile items into your diet for a full week. Over the next week, take some time to think about what's feasible -- and what isn't -- so that by July 19, you'll be ready for ELC action.
If, after doing this preliminary exercise, you discover that you're already doing the 10 100-mile thing, then I challenge you to raise the bar and go for 20 items! It's all about pushing yourself just a little bit and taking note of where your weekly food intake comes from.
I've received numerous questions about where exactly one can buy local food other than a farmer's market. Every local food shed will be different, but the possibilities include: roadside stands, pick-your-own farms, farm stores, food co-ops, community gardens, and to a lesser degree in larger metropolitan areas, supermarkets stocking local goods.
But the key, no matter where you shop, is to ask where the food is grown or raised. Assume nothing, and you'll be amazed by what you learn.
If you're curious to give the ELC a whirl but still have questions or concerns, please let me know in the comments area. And if you've got suggestions for ELC guidelines, share those too.
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