We are pleased to announce that in October 2008, we will be hosting the 4th annual Eat Local Challenge. To those of us who started talking about eating locally years ago, the popularity that local eating has seen recently is overwhelming and amazing. But when it all comes down to it, local eating is a personal commitment that can be achieved in many ways.
The traditional Eat Local Challenge is a basic concept: commit to eating only locally grown foods for a period of thirty days. Declare "exceptions" that you will not be eating locally, and try as hard as you can to have everything else come from your local foodshed. "Local" is traditionally a 150-mile distance from your home, but can really be defined as any area near you. Some locavores choose their county, state, or region.
If you're ready to commit to the 2008 Eat Local Challenge, go to our sign up page and let us know that you'll be participating. We have a goal of making this challenge the biggest and most successful yet. By signing up, you will be joining a group of hundreds of challenge-takers nationwide.
If you need to know more, read on.
Typical questions & comments we hear about taking an Eat Local Challenge include:
I work and have a family am very busy. Can I still take the challenge?
Yes! The reason that we start talking about the challenge a couple months out is that it takes a little planning in order to be successful. If you start thinking about it now, and start checking on resources and talking to your local markets, you'll be able to hit the ground running in October.
I can't eat locally -- I wouldn't be able to give up coffee.
Many of us at the Eat Local Challenge don't give up coffee either. We include it on our list of exceptions, and pay careful attention to buying the most sustainable coffee we can (bought from small farmers, fair-trade, and locally roasted).
What about spices?
Many of us invoke the "Marco Polo" rule, declaring that spices carried by explorers in the early days are okay with us. The name of the "game" here, is to see how much we can eat locally -- it's not to deprive ourselves of things like salt, pepper, baking powder and yeast. At the end of the day, we all want our food to taste good and be satisfying. Spices have a relatively small environmental impact when they have to be shipped in from far-away place.
That said, any spices that you can find locally are a special bonus. Many locavores have discovered, through the Eat Local Challenge, that local herbs and other flavoring agents can be used to replace spices.
I have to travel during October. Can I still take the challenge?
Definitely! You can use your travel time to try to find local food in your new area if possible. Try checking out a farmers market in the area where you're travelling. Even if you can't stick to your challenge commitment during this time, try to eat a couple of things locally.
I can't commit to a whole 30 days of eating locally. Are there other ways that I can participate?
What are some sites that can help me eat locally in my area?
Local Harvest and the Eatwell Guide both feature nationwide databases of farmers markets, CSA's, purveyors and farms. In California, the Local Food Guide database is an excellent reference. Keep an eye on this site as we give you additional resources leading up to October.
I'm ready to sign up. How do I get started?
You can sign up here and keep an eye on this site. We will be helping you with tips and ways to eat locally in your area.
Why do we choose to eat local? Read our 10 Reasons to Eat Local.
Interested in eating local and need some tips? Read our tips for the Eat Local Challenge.