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Create Your Own Local Food Challenge

Local Food at Colorful TableEating locally grown foods is a popular trend, and many people are taking local food challenges in an effort to see just how much of their diet can in fact be locally grown.  Some people aim to eat everything local for one whole year, while others try to eat at least one local item each day.  Some define "local" as a specific region or their state boundaries, while other define it in distance ranging from 100 feet to 300 miles. 

One example, of two suburban families who tried local for a month, appeared in article in Mother Earth News. This article, by Renee Brooks Catacalos and Kristi Bahrenburg Janzen, looks back a year later after they completed their challenge: 

Amid increasing media buzz about the virtues of local food, we set out to discover how feasible it is to eat only local food all the time. As two suburban moms, we wanted to know if "eat local" was just a hollow marketing slogan or a real alternative for families who hope to enjoy the best seasonal foods, invest in the local economy and help the environment. How much would it cost? Would the kids go for it? Would our guests appreciate it?

Pledging to forage locally for a month, we defined "local" as grown and produced within a 150-mile radius of our homes in a Maryland suburb of Washington, DC...

...Nearly a year after our all-or-nothing experiment, both our families still rely heavily on our local foodshed. We don't deny ourselves the pleasure of tropical fruits or fair trade coffee, but we buy local first and definitely purchase more local items than we used to.

Are you ready to take a local food challenge?  Here are some tips to help you design your very own:

  • Define what you think "local" means.  Your backyard, your county, your state, 300 miles from your home- whatever best suits your lifestyle and location. 
  • Pick a time period in which to complete the challenge.  This could be a week, a month, 6 months or even longer. 
  • Pick the frequency in which you eat local- every meal, at least one meal per day, 1 meal per week, etc.
  • Be creative and flexible- you could just decide that all vegetables you eat should be local, and then add meats, breads, fruits, and other foods as you go.  It can take time to figure out where to find local products, so start small and build up.
  • Allow yourself to have a few non-local items such as coffee, chocolate, rice, or anything else that can't be grown in your region.  If you have too many restrictions, you may give up.
  • Find a friend or another family to participate with.  You can search for foods together and share them as well.

If you do decide to challenge yourself to eat local, share your experience with us!  We'd love to hear from you:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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