Wednesday, October 01, 2008

My Eat Local Challenge

October is Eat Local Challenge month, so I have been spending a lot more time than usual trying to find new ways to source more of our foods locally. On a regular basis, I buy our produce, milk, honey, grits, cornmeal, whole-wheat flour, feta and chevre, bread and eggs from vendors within 100 miles of our home. And while this may seem like a lot, I've been chagrined to realize just how much of our groceries are still coming from far away.

I have signed us up for the challenge and following is my statement of participation:

1. I will define local as on a regional basis. Since I have already sought out local sources for the above-mentioned items, the remaining foodstuffs are quite a challenge. As such, I am including South Carolina, Georgia and Florida in my quests for things like hard cheeses, rice and sugar.

2. We are claiming some exemptions to this local thing. For general cooking purposes, I need olive oil, salt and pepper, yeast and butter. Since I cannot seem to find these locally, I will buy organic where possible. I am not positive we will be able to do without lemons and all-purpose flour, but I will try to find the closest-possible sources for those two items, even though they will almost certainly come from outside of the regional area I have defined. And, as the whole family is involved in this challenge, we are each claiming some personal exemptions as well. The 12-month-old has stated (in her own special way) that she will not live without garbanzo beans and toasted o-shaped cereal. The four-year-old is adamant about his need for Nutella, peanut butter and Yobaby yogurt, and I would never dream of denying him the snacks provided by parents following his soccer games. The carnivorous husband wants ham for his lunches and popping corn for stove-popping purposes. I am claiming soymilk as my personal exemption. Locally-roasted coffee gets blanket acceptance, no questions asked.

3. My goal is to dig a little deeper to find local sources for those items that we hadn't already found. Just since signing up for this challenge, I have talked The Carnivore into trying local beef, have ordered brown rice from Carolina Plantation, and have found a nearby retailer that carries cheddar cheese from Sweetgrass Dairy. With a mixed-taste, budget-conscious family of four, I don't expect us to turn into The Kingsolvers, but I think some time spent living a less-modern lifestyle will segue nicely with the values I am trying to instill in my children.

In the interest of full-disclosure though, I think it should be noted that by 2:00 am on this, the first day of the challenge, I got up to nurse the baby and ate a piece of chocolate before I realized I was going to have to give up my middle-of-the-night-treats as well. Truly, this is going to be a challenge.


ThyHandHathProvided said...

Way to go, Sarah. It is a time-consuming, sacrificing way to live. But, oh, such a good way! We try to do our best, as well. Many people, making any move in this (local) direction will have an impact! Happy shopping and eating!

Jen said...

Thank your lucky stars you don't live in El Paso--you would be eating chili peppers, alfalfa...and not much else since you don't do beef :)

My dream is to one day live in a place that has a CSA...sigh.

Sara said...

Sarah - Good luck w/the Local Challenge. I made the crispy flattened potatoes on Friday to rave reviews!
- Sara

Anonymous said...

I am trying hard to eat locally but its so expensive. I am a carnivore and the meat is so pricey but oh so good! I feel oh so balanced and alive! Its amazing. I have switched to Sprouted Grain Bread, I will never go back ever, ever, again! ;) I might not ever go clothes shopping again either!

Sarah Beam said...

Thy Hand - thanks for the encouragement. I'm hopeful about the whole experience.

Jen - CSAs really are all they're cracked up to be. I would hate to do without mine now. Funny though, that you brought up being lucky to live where I do. I had just been griping that it would be so much easier if I lived in California rather than here. I needed the reminder to be grateful for where I'm at. Thank you.

Sara - I'm glad you tried those potatoes. We've had them at least once a week for the past couple of months now, and I'm still not tired of them.

Anonymous - the expense of eating local can seem prohibitive which is why planting a small garden of your own next summer might be a good goal. Even a couple square feet in a postage-stamp sized yard can make a ginormous difference.

Lily said...

Yeah! I found someone relatively close to me & doing the challenge. Maybe we can help each other find resources. Best of luck & i'll be checking in on you.

Sarah Beam said...

Lily, I'm glad to know you. We will definately need each other.

Lily said...

Thanks for the sugar info! I included FL in my region because of all the lovely fruit. It's nice to have an orange now and then.

With pasta, I am choosing to buy it. It's such a chore to make from scratch. I'm making my own bread which is enough on my plate right now. I do wish you all the luck with pasta!