Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Milwaukee: Eat Local Challenge

Seems that everyone is trying to eat local these days, so I'm not going to go on and on about the benefits of supporting local agri-business and promoting healthful eating. But, I am going to announce that we're going to be participating in the Eat Local Challenge sponsored by our local Outpost Natural Foods co-op.

The challenge is a two-week event (Sept 1-15) during which participants take time to reflect on where their food comes from. The idea is that each participant pledges to spend at least 10% of his/her grocery dollars on local foods. It lines up nicely with Milwaukee's
Eat Local Challenge which is held during the second week of September and is sponsored by the Friends of Real Food, (a grass roots community group of the Urban Ecology Center) with support from Slow Food WiSE. During this week, people are encouraged to eat only foods which are available within a 100-mile radius, and those which are fresh or freshly canned. For foods not available in this area which people choose not to give up, shopping at locally owned businesses is encouraged.

Since we've been making an effort to eat more locally overall (in summer, it's easy to get our produce locally... and we've started to focus on eating all local meats and dairy products as well), I'm going to track exactly HOW MUCH of our consumption is actually local. We're also going to make an extra effort to keep our meals as local as possible... shooting for as close to 100% as we can get. We'll keep track of the LOCAL QUOTIENT on each of our posts for the next couple of weeks, and I'll report back with the final numbers at the end of the event.

We're pretty excited. We kicked off the event last night by making an eggplant lasagnette with locally grown zebra eggplant, sauce made from local peppers, onions, garlic, and herbs... and garlic bread made with local garlic, miso, and a loaf of local bread. Aside from the wine we drank, the can of tomatoes I used for the sauce, and the olive oil we used for frying the eggplant, the meal was entirely local!

In the spirit of the challenge, I'm going to ask -- how many of YOU have pledged (formally or informally) to eat locally?

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  1. Good luck! I try, but it's hard to find farmer's markets that aren't Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. on the wrong side of town...

  2. It's a great movement..keep us up to date on your progress!

  3. Brilliant!

    I always try to eat locally - although I'm not militant about it... I like my Asian condiments a tad too much I think! (Not to mention Italian canned tomatoes!)

    Good luck - I will follow with interest!

  4. I find eating locally to be a pretty big challenge.

    When I'm travelling up to NJ on the weekends to visit my horses, there are ample farm stands around, but it seems odd to be driving so far out of my way to "eat locally". Farmer's markets that are close to home often run at inconvenient days and times, so it's very hard to get to them. If I really rush, I can get to the Stamford farmer's market at lunch from work. If I get up really early on Sunday I can get to the one in Rye. Farmer's markets are never a leisurely affair for me. None of the CSA programs operate out of the markets near me. My mother used to belong to one that ran out of the Rye market, but they stopped selling there.

    My biggest criticism of the local food movement is its lack of accessibility to many. If I have to rush around or drive out of my way to eat local food, and I'm a 9-5 middle class person with a car, how hard is it for people who don't have cars? How about people with three jobs? I'd like to see local food accesible to everyone.

  5. TOTALLY agreed about local food being more accessible.

    We're luck in the sense that we live in a city that (remarkably) provides a good variety of sources for local fare. It wasn't always like that, but these days we have a lot of options. We have a co-op that is invested in local food, a number of CSA's that deliver locally, and farmer's markets on Saturdays :) Admittedly, sometimes it's difficult for us to get UP at the crack of dawn on a Saturday to get to the market... but, overall it's fairly convenient.

    I do think that a beginning is to "vote" with our dollars -- and try to support as much local business as possible. But, I think that's just a start. Personally, I'd like to see more communities making local eating a priority.

  6. I can't wait to hear about your experience - please write more about this! I'm definitely on the locavore bandwagon, but that is easy to do in Seattle in the summertime...February is another story...

    I have a friend in Milwaukee who just recently started a tiny urban farm and is selling at some farmers markets (I think she named her business Honey Hill Farms?)

    And AMEN about voting with your dollars - the only way local/organic/sustainable food will BECOME accessable to all is if those of us who CAN, support the movement when it is young and inconvenient...


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