Eat Local
How to Eat Like a Local
May 1, 2006

Okay. Well. I did it. I'm scared to tell my husband that I did it. But I did it.

I signed up to take the Locavores 2006 Eat Local Challenge that will take place for the entire month of May.

Goal: To keep my local head above local water and consciously think about the origins of every piece of food or drink that slips down my gullet.

I'm not taking the Eat Local Challenge to smug myself above anyone else, and I'm not doing it for politically motivated reasons. Although, those are sort of a bonus, actually. Sadly, my aspirations are much lower and humbler. I'm really doing it to see if I can do it. While it may be easier in Northern California than anywhere else in this country, eating 100% local isn't actually that easy.

Where will I falter? Probably on those nights when I'm too tired or busy to cook something from scratch and give in to ordering in or going out. Even if you order from local restaurants, there's absolutely no guarantee that they are using only local ingredients. In fact, it's very likely that they aren't.

When I first heard about last year's challenge, I was like, "Are you serious? Local eating in San Francisco? That's totally easy! I mean fabulous produce aside, we got local bread, cheese, chocolate, coffee, olive oil, and wine!"

Except, no.

First of all, where does the flour to make the bread come from? Or the yeast? Where do the cocoa and coffee beans came from? Not California. See, it's not just eating the end result of locally produced foods, it's taking into consideration where every single ingredient in those products comes from.

However, the Eat Local Challenge is very forgiving. They allow for exemptions and certainly don't expect everyone to eat 100% local. Participants can eat local as much or as little as they want. They also have a great list of guidelines:

Guidelines for Eating Well
If not LOCALLY PRODUCED, then Organic. This is one of the most readily available alternatives in the market and making this choice protects the environment and your body from harsh chemicals and hormones.

If not ORGANIC, then Family farm. When faced with Kraft or Cabot cheeses, Cabot, a dairy co-op in Vermont, is the better choice. Supporting family farms helps to keep food processing decisions out of the hands of corporate conglomeration.

If not FAMILY FARM, then Local business. Basics like coffee and bread make buying local difficult. Try a local coffee shop or bakery to keep your food dollar close to home.

If not a LOCAL BUSINESS, then Terroir, which means 'taste of the Earth'. Purchase foods famous for the region they are grown in and support the agriculture that produces your favorite non-local foods such as Brie cheese from Brie, France or parmesan cheese from Parma, Italy.

So, my exemptions on the Locavore Eat Local submission form are: Coffee, chocolate, and Kosher salt.

Wait, crap. What am I going to do about Cliff Bars? My husband will leave me if I make him give those up for a month, and I'm rather partial to their sustainable energy myself, especially when I have a long day of cheese slinging ahead of me. There's also that newly opened jar of June Taylor Meyer Lemon Marmalade. I mean, does she use local sugar? Is there even such a thing as local sugar? And Izze, I can't give up Izze! Or tea!

Dude, this is going to be hard.

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