The Power of Eat Local Seasons (v. Weeks)

Day 3 of Eat Local Challenge Series

Three days in and we are starting to hit our stride.

It isn’t that eating local has suddenly become a lot easier. It’s more that we are getting better at letting go of things we had grown comfortable with and have had a hard time carving out of our diets.

For me, my biggest challenge has been letting go of my favorite hot sauces, none of which meet localvore requirements, and grabbing a handful of nuts, typically salted peanuts or mixed nuts, as a quick snack. For my wife it was probably raw sugar in her coffee. For the kids, it would seem that chocolate is the center of their snacking universe, whether chocolate chip cookies, chocolate milk, hot chocolate, etc. They also miss having the option of being able to buy their lunch at school (other than my 13 year old, who you know by now has carved out lunch).

To their credit (specifically my 10 and 11 year olds), my kids have shown tremendous discipline, saying “no” to offers from friends at school to break their local focus: Positive Pie pizza (2009 Seven Daysies award winner for “Best Pizza Outside Chittenden County”…well deserved!), Nature’s Path Organic Toaster Pastries (strawberry frosted variety…a favorite), fruit leathers, Newman’s Own oreo-type cookies and school snacks.

Just Say No” is taking on a whole new meaning from my family!

The real problem may be less about letting go than it is about using what you have. You see, living in New England for the last nine years has taught us a thing or two about being resourceful. Call it Yankee ingenuity. If we have something that might go bad if we don’t eat it, we eat it. If we have something in the pantry that can be substituted for something we don’t currently have stocked, we use it. And so on.

Which makes the flip-a-switch-and-start-eating-local-for-a-week approach very difficult for us, as I expect it is  for many others. In fact, I’m growing a little concerned that the idea of a week-long Eat Local Challenge, which sounds so good on the surface, may unintentionally turn people away from eating local more often because they get the impression that its difficult. The same thing already happens with many people’s first experience with community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, where “supermarket withdrawl” settles in and people start missing the convenience and flexibility of getting “fresh” produce from large supermarkets.

Maybe what we need is an Eat Local Season (rather than a single week), where people are encouraged to ease into eating local by replacing pantry items with local options when they restock, which over time will increase the percentage of local foods used in preparing meals and snacks.
The season could start when school lets out, to eliminate the “school lunch exemption,” and run into early fall. If you timed it right, by the time people had turned over much of their pantry, the produce harvest would be in full bloom and the Eat Local Season Challenge could culminate in a Harvest Week, which is when participants give their 100% effort to eat local.

Maybe next year.

For now, we will keep letting go this week in hopes that in the weeks to follow we find ourselves reaching for the local options more frequently.

3 responses to “The Power of Eat Local Seasons (v. Weeks)

  1. I can’t imagine how you go shopping weekly. Going to the store is such a sensory overload, even at the smaller coop food stores. We shop about once every one to three months and then don’t want to go back until we get the desperate “out-of’s”.

  2. I think you’re right about both letting go AND using what you have. I find myself wanting to buy bananas, for example, but then realizing how many great foods I don’t eat enough of – those that are tastier this time of year from local places – and just walk away.

    • Speaking of bananas, I have always been under the impression that bananas come primarily from places in central and South America. Imagine my surprise when I found out just yesterday that India is the #1 exporter of bananas, and is nearly 3X the volume of China in second spot. Food’s a funny thing on the global stage. All the more reason to focus on regional foods first!

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