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.