Poised For A Challenge
1. What's your definition of local for this challenge?
I decided to go with "local as I can" as my definition, while aiming this month to find more sources for daily food needs that are between 50 and 100 miles of my home. I live in a particularly rich part of the country; when I was born in the 1950s, California fed the world - or at least that was its claim. The widest assortment of food was grown here of almost all the states, except maybe for the New Jersey of that era, which had been the garden for New York City for over a century. Now, much of our food is imported from other countries. Luckily, there have grown to be quite a few small, organic family farms and artisanal food producers within that radius. I can get meat, dairy, eggs, many veggies, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, olives and olive oil, various wines, and, of course, rice all close at hand, and much of it organic.
That said, I have made a strong commitment to eating organic foods over the years, and don't plan to give that up for the Challenge; I will be looking instead at preserving more of my own local foods in season, such as freezing the hordes of locally grown strawberries available during May, so that I will be eating local when I put them in smoothies next winter. If there is something that is organic, but still a bit outside that 100-mile range, I won't hesitate to eat it, and support the organic farmers.
2. What exemptions will you claim?
Oh, probably more than I care to admit! I will continue to drink the fair-traded coffee we have purchased for two decades, as well as consume chocolate and spices. I don't eat much in the way of grains, so rice will be ok, but I will exempt the Rudy's Organic bread I do eat, even though it comes from Colorado, and the Straus Family Creamery dairy products I get at my local coop, even though they are 183.88 miles from me (thanks, Map Quest), because they are a responsible family farm that employs reusable glass milk bottles in their packaging. I decided I balance the extra oil consumption involved in getting these products by getting my eggs at either the local feed store or from a friend who delivers them to me at work, and my meats from my cousin and my friend, Anna.
I will probably eat out once or twice a week, especially if traveling, and maybe for Mother's Day, depending on what my family concocts for me. We will be hosting all of DH's family over Memorial Day weekend, and I will eat almost everything put in front of me, as I consider it more important to nurture family ties than alienate family members by refusing to eat their food. I will, however, save some of my choicest local finds to feast with them.
3. What is your personal goal for the month?
I have a few: to search out new, closer sources (such as my next olive oil purchase), to reconnect with preserving the abundance of the seasons in order to broaden our food choices down the line, while localizing further, and to contribute to the education of others.
So you're ready to take the challenge ... now what?
Be sure and read our group blog regularly (it is colorful and entertaining), to try new produce that is in season at your local farmers market, and to plant something you can eat, even if it is just one pot of kitchen herbs! Don't hesitate to write and share your thoughts, fears and questions. I have loved food and cooking all my life, and am still learning new things, very exciting for me.