Save the World and Save a Dime: Eat Locally
Paul Michael's recent post on processed foods and Andrea Dickson's on the Manhattan family trying to live without impacting the environment got me thinking. One one hand, Paul's exposing us to some very real perils in the industry responsible for pretty much everything we consume. On the other, Andrea tells us about a family going to very extreme measures to address these perils and more. It's admirable what the Manhattan familiy is doing, but living without toilet paper, or composting inside a city apartment are a bit much for most people. But there's a group of bloggers who offer a more feasible challenge, designed for sustainability, deliciousness, good stories, and now, even for saving a buck or two: eat locally.
The Eat Local Challenge can mean different things to different people. For some, it's a 100-mile radius, while for others, anything that comes from within their state is fair game. There may be exceptions, like soy sauce, or black pepper. It might be a commitment to reshape your entire diet, or just a single dish made exclusively from local foods brought to a Thanksgiving dinner. But the idea is, you start thinking about the food you're consuming. You ask questions from the employees at your local grocer, or at the farmer's market (a real haven for diverse, fresh local goods). You boost your local economy and eliminate the environmental costs of long-range transportation and packaging, even more effectively than by eating organically.
It is a true challenge, but the payoff is an oasis from many of the issues introduced by food processing, not to mention delicious new taste experiences. Eating locally means you can't have everything all the time, but instead you get a feel for seasonality -- fruits and vegetables at the peak of flavor and ripeness. Plus, local produce is certainly fresher than pears shipped from China or cucumbers from Mexico (unless of course, you happen to be living in China or Mexico).
The folks at Eat Local Challenge have been churning out a variety of challenges over the last couple years, and the latest focuses on budget: The Penny-wise Eat Local Challege. For one week in April, they will be eating locally, but also staying within the budget of the average American, which according to the Department of Labor, this could be as low as $121 a week for a single-income household. No doubt there will be trying moments, but that's part of budgeting, right?
Here's some more info: