It’s Coming: The 2006 Eat Local Challenge

May 2006 is the time and wherever you are is the place for the Locavore’s 2006 Eat Local Challenge. Last year, it was in August, a time of year when harvests are abundant and varied; this year, the Bay-Area Locavores, decided to give participants a chance to eat local in another season–spring.

Depending on where in the world one is living, May can bring strawberries, asparagus, garlic, ramps, fiddleheads, morels, new potatoes, baby peas, radishes or tiny lettuces. It is a very different set of produce than the tomatoes, corn, beans, eggplant, peppers, squash, and greens pour from the fields in a plethora of color, scent and flavor, and this difference affords the cook and eater a new set of challenges and rewards when they step into the adventure of eating local.

Once again, the rules of the challenge are simple. Each participant decides on their own limitations, exceptions and parameters, as they strive to “eat where they live.” Throughout the month, participants will blog about their experiences, the triumphs and failures, in whatever way they see fit. Last year, some folks sought out hard to find local products, some harvested their own sea salt, while others foraged wild foods. Everyone had creative recipes to share, and good stories to tell.

Jen of Life Begins at Thirty was central to the Eat Local Challenge last year, reporting not only on all of her personal eating local adventures, but also showcasing the exploits and efforts of other bloggers in her own blog. This year will be no exception–Jen has been asked to join the Locavores’ organizing committee–way to go, Jen! This year, she intends to continue to chronicle the doings of the bloggers who eat locally, but this time around, she intends to do things a little differently; instead of using Life Begins at Thirty to report on all of the doings of the Challenge, she is opening a new, group-written blog for the purpose of keeping up with all of the blogging locavores around the world. This blog will serve as a clearinghouse for announcements on eating local, and will not just be a useful phenominon in May, but the entire year around as people like Jen and myself, who strive to eat locally more than once a year, will be posting about the trials and successes of striving to eat as locally as possible.

So, what do I intend to do this May, for the Eat Local Challenge? Well, in addition to using fresh strawberries and asparagus to great effect in the kitchen, I am hoping to do a little bit of food preservation for the winter. This winter season, I have been awful at eating locally, when it comes to produce, because, when you live in a state like Ohio, you have to plan ahead for the winter unless you want to eat organically grown produce or canned products shipped from California. Not a lot grows in Ohio in the winter, though we do have farmers with greenhouses and cloches who have fresh root crops, leafy greens and squash all winter long. Tomatos, fruit and the like, however, are not available locally preserved, unless one does it one’s self.

So, maybe you will get to watch me begin my new adventures in jams, jellies, preserves and canning starting in May and progressing through the summer months. We’ll see, though. That is a lot of work; I grew up helping my grandmother can, freeze and preserve and I know how much stamina is necessary to pull such an enterprise off.

In addition, like last time, I will have book reviews on topics relevant to the Eat Local Challenge for my readers to peruse. Some of the titles are ones I didn’t get to in August, while others are new since then, and new to me. I will try to do some old favorites as well, so that budding locavores have an idea of where to go for appropriate reading material from the present and the past.

And, as always, there will be features on my local food finds during the month. Last year it was locally made tofu from locally grown organic soybeans–maybe this time around it will be locally produced milk. Or maybe I will finally track down that organic farmer in Licking County and buy some freshly milled, organically grown whole wheat flour from him.

Of course, there will be recipes, and lots of pretty photographs of the produce from the farmer’s market and maybe even the action at the market itself. And, you can watch over my shoulder as I plant my herbs and maybe even some container-grown cherry tomatoes.

Stay tuned for all of the action, and if there is anything in particular you would like to see in May, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send an email and ask. Your wish, as always, is my command.


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  1. This is such an interesting topic. It really gets you thinking about what it means to eat locally. My inital reaction was – “well, I live in Northern California – this will be a snap.” And then…

    I started thinking about what I eat, and how much of it is an exception to my preference to eat locally. Coffee, Indian staples such as basmati rice and urad dal, frozen shrimp (which is always, just always in my freezer and is farmed from Thailand no less). And I realized what a challenge this will in fact be. I think I will be easing myself into the challenge by focusing on major categories such as vegies, meat and dairy, and make exceptions for staples, spices etc. But as I said, the main value for me is the awareness of it – I will be keeping an eye out for local alternatives to things I often think nothing about buying from afar.

    I love the canning idea! Let us know how it goes!

    Comment by Diane — April 1, 2006 #

  2. Diane, last August, I made exceptions for things that absolutely could not be grown in Ohio, such as spices, rice, coffee, tea, chocolate and the like.

    I focused on meats, vegetables, dairy and eggs, and still found that I had trouble finding locally produced fluid milk, though I could get Ohio butter and cheese, and tofu. And wheat flour.

    I finally found local tofu, but local milk and wheat still proved elusive.

    All in all, even though my local foodshed was “all of Ohio,” which is pretty large, and I made plenty of exceptions for tropical products that have always been imported into our fair state, it was a fun challenge and a worthy one.

    Though, in truth, I do try to maintain a preference in food for local over organic, and was raised that way, (farmers as grandparents will do that to a body), the challenge was still worth pursuing, and I look forward to presenting a month’s worth of posts related to local, sustainable food and eating in May.

    Comment by Barbara — April 1, 2006 #

  3. The lack of local milk surprises me, and I guess shows how dominated we have become by agribusiness. I grew up in PA (which is relatively close to OH) and at that time there still were a few local dairies (and lots of small dairy farms). Have you tried to find Amish markets? Not sure if there are any in OH, but in central PA there are a few. One Amish man makes lovely yogurt. That may be a lead for milk.

    Comment by Diane — April 1, 2006 #

  4. Good for you, Barbara – anything to reduce our ecological footprint!

    We’ve just contracted with a small nearby farm who will bring us a lovely box of organic vegetables once a week. It doesn’t cost much more than shopping in the supermarket and I think it’ll be big fun.

    Comment by Hadar — April 1, 2006 #

  5. I just found an Ohio dairy supplying local milk to our Krogers store, Diane–but it is “local” in the loosest sense. It is in northern Ohio–hours away from here.

    Agribusiness is one source of the lack of local milk–it also has to do with the draconian dairy laws of Ohio, which in truth, were originally enacted to protect consumers from tuberculosis spreading via the milk supply. Now, however, it makes it impossible for small dairy farms to sell directly to consumers, unless they have pasteurization equipment–which most of them don’t.

    I have been wondering how much it would cost to set up a small pasteurization plant, and then start a co-op of local cow and goat dairy farms around here. It is something that has been hanging around in the back of my head for a while, because there are plenty of folks raising dairy cattle and goats in Athens county, but they have no legal way to sell fluid milk to anyone, because of the dairy laws here.

    Hadar–CSA’s are fun and you get the best produce that way–fresh and delicious and filled with vitamins. Enjoy!

    Comment by Barbara — April 3, 2006 #

  6. How do I join the Eat Local Challenge? And I sure hope I can convince some of my fellow German foodbloggers to join in, too.

    Comment by Foodfreak — April 4, 2006 #

  7. Foodfreak–last year, Jen kept track of the folks blogging about their own personal Eat Local Challenge. This year, she will likely keep track of everyone through the group blog that she is starting (it isn’t live yet, that I know of). Read her post about it here:, and keep an eye on her blog, and mine, for announcements. I will definately post when the group blog is up and running. Until then, you can email her–there is a link in that post–with questions and queries about participating in the group blog.

    I would love to see a contingent of German food bloggers participating!

    Comment by Barbara — April 4, 2006 #

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