Editor’s Note: Kelly Reynolds, graphic designer, social media consultant and author of the blog Reynolds Report, is taking a personal Eat Local Challenge during the month of April and will be reporting weekly about her journey. Kelly hails from Phoenix, Arizona. Thanks, Kelly! We look forward to hearing about how it goes.
The journey to try an Eat Local Challenge for a month came about five months ago when I was developing my “30 by 30” list – a list of 30 things to do by the time I turn 30-years-old. I knew I had goals – some silly and some meaningful – and I wanted to write them down and accomplish them.
One of my goals was to become a locavore. I didn’t know for how long or when, but I’d do it.
Since then, I’ve done a lot of research and decided that starting this Friday, April 1, I will be a locavore for the entire month. At first, I thought, “Sure, I can do this. I’ll eat salad and chicken and beef from local farms. No problem. It might get boring – but I can do it.”
But then I realized that there’s so much more to being a locavore. I started visiting my local Arizona farmer’s markets more than just once or twice a month. I started developing relationships between farmers and other local eaters. And I realized that this is more than just eating local to prove I can do it.
I knew before going into this that it would be better for the environment and better for my health . I just didn’t know how much. I started reading “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life” by Barbara Kingsolver and one passage from the first chapter caught me completely off guard.
“If every U. S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by 1.1 million barrels of oil every week.”
I also read an article in Cooking Light that said grass-fed beef is lower in calories, contains more healthy omega-3 fats, more vitamins A and E, higher levels of antioxidants, and up to seven times the beta-carotene. In fact, if you switch to grass-fed beef for a year, you will save 16,642 calories, but it would also cost you about $300 more.
About a week ago, I started really planning for this locavore challenge and I realized that it will be harder than I thought. Sure, I can eat salad and local beef and chicken every day, but what about the smaller things? Where would I get salad dressing? Would I make it? How do you make salad dressing? What can I drink? Water? Local milk? What about side dishes? Am I stuck with local veggies?
It doesn’t help the matter that I’ve never been a very good cook, and tend not to stray far beyond my comfort zone. But, when I found this mantra I felt so much better.
If not LOCALLY PRODUCED, then organic.
If not ORGANIC, then family farm.
If not FAMILY FARM, then local business.
If not a LOCAL BUSINESS, then fair trade.
If all else fails, at least don’t eat at McDonald’s!
I realized that it’s ok if I don’t eat 100% of things grown at the Gilbert Farmer’s Market, as long as I’m making a conscious effort. But, I don’t plan on straying far – my goal is to eat and drink local and organic for the month (looks like I’ll be making a trip or two to Whole Foods)
So, as this journey begins, I’m excited and terrified at the same time. And, I’ll need some help from you. Have you participated in an Eat Local Challenge before? How’d it go? Where’d you shop? What were your biggest challenges?