Saturday, September 20, 2008

Results: Eat Local Challenge

So, I finally had a few moments to sit down and tally the results of our Eat Local Challenge. And I have to admit, I'm pretty excited to share the results.

We went into the challenge pretty confident of the fact that we could make local eating work for two short weeks (You can do anything for a limited period of time, right?). But, we came out realizing that eating locally is WAY more possible than we'd first realized (Hurrah!).
We'll be honest, part of what made eating locally so effortless during the month of September was the vast amount of produce we could obtain from both our backyard garden, our CSA (LotFotL Community Farm), and the Wisconsin farmers at the farmer's markets.

Making it to the market DID require a bit of sacrifice on our part. Rather than shopping when we liked, and making impulse purchases, we had to be diligent about getting up early on Saturdays so that we didn't miss out on the market's best produce. We also had to pay attention to what was coming out of our backyard garden (and be dedicated to daily harvesting) so that we didn't end up with an overabundance of any one type of produce. But, we also had a blast doing it!

  • When we got to have a conversation with the Amish farmer from whom we bought a package of goat cheese, he got nearly giddy when he told us about how he hand-milked his small herd of goats and produced the cheese with his own two hands. We got giddy about the fact that we actually got to MEET the man who was producing our food!

  • The Challenge inspired us to turn an overabundance of garden produce into yummy dehydrated delights that will serve us the whole winter through!

  • We even found Happy Chickens!!
Eating locally also required us to do some serious menu planning. Rather than eating "on a whim," we based our daily meals on what was fresh, what needed to be used up, and what we could actually obtain from a local source. Admittedly, we had moments of weakness. When Peef got a craving for seafood enchiladas (which required imitation crab -- something we could NOT find locally), we kept the rest of the meal as local as possible by obtaining local tortillas, milk, flour, mushrooms, peppers, kale, and corn.

While some things we eat simply can NOT be obtained locally, I was genuinely surprised by all the products we found we could obtain locally when we really started paying attention to the products we were buying.

I found a local source for soy milk and canned beans (Eden Products in Clinton, Michigan). I discovered that the bulk pasta that Outpost Natural Foods carries is made in Chicago, Illinois. I also renewed my committment to local, organic, and UNhomogenized milk after taking one swig of the delicious, frothy dairy produced by Crystal Ball Farms in Osceola, WI.

I shouldn't forget something that might surprise a few of you. We have a really great local tortilla factory (El Rey) that makes both flour and corn tortillas -- right here in Milwaukee.
And the best part of it is, you can pick them up right from the local retailer when they're still hot and steaming up their packaging!
While we won't be able to sustain the same level of local eating during the months of January, February, and March, I feel more confident now than ever before, that we can dedicate a serious percentage of our purchasing dollars to local business. And the best part is, we don't have to sacrifice quality to do so!


The total amount we spent on groceries during the challenge: $281.70
The total amount we spent on local food during the challenge: $207.56 (74%)

Cereal, local fruit, locally produced soy milk and/or kefir


Leftovers from dinners


  1. Eggplant lasagnette

  2. Vegetable burritos with cilantro rice

  3. Eggplant, goat cheese, and pepper panini

  4. Rosemary's Smoky Baby Cheezy Mac

  5. Eggplant pie

  6. Chicken cacciatouille

  7. Seafood enchiladas, local greens

  8. Crisp Roasted Curried Cauliflower with Tofu

  9. Mexican "home fries" (made with potatoes, poblanos, black beans, corn, cheese)

  10. Lamb kebabs with green beans

  11. Perogies with red cabbage

  12. Mushroom Philly cheese "steak" panini with rosemary roasted potatoes

  13. Take-out Pizza

  14. Jerk chicken with Caribbean rice & beans and garlicky sauteed greens

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  1. Hey you did great! I really enjoyed reading about everything you did to keep it local.

  2. Nice work! Isn't it so satisfying to know where your food comes from? Here in Canada we just had a major recall on deli meats from a huge manufacturer. I was so relieved to know that I had nothing to worry about.

  3. How inspiring! I've really enjoyed reading about the challenge. And I'm jealous that you have a local source of good fresh tortillas.

  4. Very cool! Good for you! You're right - gardening and local eating totally change how you cook - it's more about finding recipes for ingredients rather than finding ingredients for recipes. :)

  5. Very impressive. It's not easy to make the time and do the legwork involved in this sort of thing. Good for you!


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