eat local challenge

[written 08/03/05]

hey there ~ can you believe it’s august already? wow.

about the ‘eat local august challenge’ i mentioned earlier..

major obstacle: time. i decided i’ll be doing the challenge until the 18th and then it’s basically out of my hands. from the 18th till the 21st, i’ll be in new orleans for a work conference, hence i’ll be eating out, needing to schmooze and all that (ugh, i’m a really bad schmoozer, unless i click with someone, and well, then it’s not schmoozing, is it?) from the 21st to the 30th i’ll be home with my family in maryland – and that means a lot of eating out too.

however, that also means a lot of cooking and food shopping, though, which opens up some choices, even if it isn’t my kitchen. my dad has a new mini-orchard going on and from what i hear my little sisters are up to their ears in cherries and are canning them like crazy, etc. also, maryland is corn-land if nothing else – fresh corn on the cob, yum.

so, here’s my plan:

  1. What’s your definition of local for this challenge?
    i’m going with the general answer: local means within a hundred mile radius of los angeles.

  2. What exemptions will you claim?

  • ~ what’s in my pantry already *
  • ~ cheese. though i’ll look for local ones. maybe even make some myself?
  • ~ rice
  • ~ olive oil
  • ~ any spices i have already, including salt & pepper

i might add more here – hopefully not too many.

  1. What is your personal goal for the month?
    starting august 1st.. err august 3rd (ahem), i’m going to try and have a large portion of the food i eat be grown locally. by large portion i mean over 50% – though some days i hope to do much better than that. in general, i hope to see how easy, and hard, it is to eat locally – both time-wise, money-wise, and other-wise – and with that knowledge, be able to realistically plan on how to extend this challenge to the rest of my time in los angeles. this is basically a trial run, in other words, but with support, which makes it a whole lot more fun.

one caveat: this is sooo not about purity, about holier-than-thou, about extreme anything or absolutes of any kind. i’m not into that, nor can i sustain that.

in getting ready for this, i’ve come to realize this challenge is a continuation of a long-held, however unrealized – until the last few years, at least – idea. basically, as others have written, i want to wean myself off corporate dependency.

that dependency comes in lots of different shapes and affects all parts of my life. to a certain extent in this culture, especially living in l.a., it’s unavoidable. but the dream of independence, of self-sufficiency, of craft and knowledge, is old, instilled when young and nurtured by so many relationships since then.

starting from when i was little and my mom refused to buy us plastic halloween costumes and instead handmade us costumes (remind me to post a pic of me in my own she-ra getup, it’s awesome.) or when i’d visit my grandparents’ farm and see on the wall the box filled with a handful of soybeans, corn, and beans, labeled “our first harvest”.

then, learning to love checking books out of the library rather than just hoarding my own (though there’s nothing wrong with a personal library – believe me, i’ve got one! but the greediness of the 12 year old who wanted a copy of every book she read? not a pretty sight.) learning i prefered homemade pasta to store-bought. shoot, learning that i generally preferred homemade any-kind-of-food to store-bought.

so, i see this as just another step. i already don’t eat at most fast food chains (being vegetarian makes that easy-peasy), i try and buy organic when possible (trader joe’s makes that easy too), i try and avoid refined sugar (darn ketchup). i’ll be visiting local farmer’s markets, trying out a home delivery service, and hopefully cooking up delicious new recipes – i went a little crazy the other day and put a ton of great-sounding vegetarian cookbooks on hold at the library. yay!

*happily, i’m almost done with my pantry stash. all that’s left are canned pineapples (years and years old), a ton of dried beans, instant mashed potatoes, and cereal. ay, what a list, huh? ;)

[images from the smooch]