May Eat Local Challenge

Having read the S.F. Chronicle story last week on mega-organics, I ran across their mention of the Locavores, a group promoting an “eat locally” challenge for the month of May. I took a look at their guidelines and found myself nodding along; those are all things I try to incorporate into my food behaviors.

I had already started a post in which I was going to use the Locavores link, as I’d run across an article last week about a study that found that vegetarians are more energy efficient. No surprise there, of course.

Then last night, I went to see The Real Dirt on Farmer John, a truly wonderful documentary about John Peterson of Angelic Organics.

The film was a delight, as you’d expect from the slew of awards mentioned on its homepage. John Peterson was fascinating to hear from.

The best moment of the evening, though, was when another older farmer interviewed in the film was speaking about the encroachment of development that started in the 1980s – he talked about what had been grown on that land, and then the next year houses, and as he tried to say “and they took that good soil and filled it up with concrete,” his eyes filled with tears and his voice broke. The camera lingered on the farmer for a moment, who sat silently, unable to continue speaking.

Someone near the back of the theatre called out, “NORTH FRESNO!” and a murmur of assent and probably a little dissent rippled through the audience.

It was great.

I woke up Saturday morning and decided I would try to find a manageable “eat local” change to make during May. I’m already eating a lot of local food just by being a vegetarian living in central California. So I decided I would change my vegetable sources a little bit. I signed up for a CSA this morning and decided that I would try to get back to making it a habit to use the farmers’ market first.

The questions below about the challenge come from the Locavores’ signup page and the May Eat Local Challenge blog.

What’s your definition of local for this challenge?

All produce from within California; as close to Fresno as practicable.

What is your personal goal for the month in terms of local eating?

I’m a longstanding vegetarian and organic consumer who already eats seasonally. I also live in central California and work in the produce industry, so I have the good fortune to be able to eat locally pretty effectively already. (If there is a choir the Locavores are preaching to, I’m in it.)

However, I have relied on retail for much of my produce for the past two years, as I have been living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and my ability to shop has been unreliable and my ability to cook has been absent.

A few years ago when I was living in Michigan and before I became ill, every Saturday between May and November found me starting the morning by jogging about two miles to the farmers’ market. There my husband would meet me and we’d make our rounds, then head to the local bakery and then the local health food store. Now I can’t count on being able to get to the market during its hours, nor can I count on having the energy to cook consistently.

For this reason, I’m going to take a small step for the Eat Local Challenge. I’ll maintain my purchases of produce from within California and reduce my household’s food miles and dependence on produce sold at retail as well as increase returns directly to farmers by joining the T&D Willey Farms CSA. Until my membership kicks in (on May 18th), I’ll use the farmers’ market as much as possible.

Since my website is She Spills the Beans, I’ll also look for beans that come from within the state.

What exemptions will you claim?

I’ve been working on a chocolate yogurt pop for my blog that isn’t finished testing yet, so I’m going to keep going on that. The yogurt will be from California, though the chocolate is in no way local – it’s made with Scharffenberger chocolate, though, which is made, if not grown, in California (though it’s no longer a California-owned company now that it’s been purchased by Hershey).

The CSA I’m joining will mostly give me vegetables, so I’ll be buying some California-grown fruit from the store. I know I will still buy some packaged foods at retail (canned Muir Glen tomatoes, puffed rice, soymilk). The packaged goods, as is usual for me, will continue to be California products as much as possible.

I’m not giving up spices, as I’ve got a spice blogging challenge I’m working on. I’ll use herbs from my garden, though.

What is going to be the biggest challenge for you in eating locally?

I was an avid and resourceful cook before I became ill two years ago, and now I mostly rely on others to cook for me. Joining a CSA or buying from the farmers’ market will give me a little less flexibility in choosing the foods I eat, and I’ll have to do more planning and assisting in the food preparation, which will require a significant energy expenditure.

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2 Responses to May Eat Local Challenge

  1. genamom says:

    Have you guys heard of Grandmas All Natural in the Tower District? Look it up!

  2. Jocelyn says:

    I hadn’t, but now I’ve looked it up – sounds intriguing! We will have to check it out. Thanks for the tip, Genamom – what do you like about the place?

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