October 2008 Eat Local Challenge

October 2008 is when the fourth annual Eat Local Challenge is taking place, and I signed up.

I felt kind of silly signing up, since I eat locally all the time anyway, but when I thought about it, it does make sense to participate.

Taking part in this challenge gives me incentive to remember to write about shopping for, growing, cooking and eating local foods. Living in Athens, Ohio, it is sometimes really easy to take our local bounty for granted, because we have such a vibrant local food community that is thriving and growing with each passing month.

But as vibrant as this local food movement is here in Athens, it is wrong for me to take it for granted. With the economy the way it is, I must remember how hard it is to start a local small business, especially a food business and it is harder still to keep it afloat. So now more than ever, it is important to not only eat local food and support local communities, it is important to talk about it, and spread the word to others so that people can get inspired to go out and make local food happen in their own areas.

Another thing that will be interesting about this eat local challenge is that Zak, Kat and I will be away for ten days, starting this Friday, visiting Zak’s parents up in New Hampshire. So, I will have lots of opportunities to try out local food in a place that is NOT Athens, Ohio. Karl and Tessa try very hard to eat local foods, but the growing season in New Hampshire is short, so it is really challenging there in ways that is not really the case here in Appalachian Ohio. I mean, Athens has a year-round farmer’s market, which is not the case in their little corner of New Hampshire.

So, it will be a fascinating experiment, to say the least.

Anyway, if any of my readers are interested in signing up to take part in the 2008 Eat Local Challenge, they can go visit the Eat Local Challenge blog and sign up, joining thousands of other folks who are trying to eat as locally as possible.

Now, here are my parameters for this year’s challenge:

My definition of local will include foods grown or produced in Ohio (except when I am visiting New Hampshire–then I will strive to eat foods grown or produced in New Hampshire.) I will also strive when eating out to eat at locally owned, independent restaurants, and will try and feature them in my blog, especially the ones that use locally grown produce and other local foods.

My exemptions are simple–if it cannot be grown in Ohio, then I claim it. Eating locally is not about depriving yourself of coffee, tea, sesame oil, spices, chocolate or soy sauce. It is about incorporating as many local foods as possible into your diet. This often winds up being healthier, because most local foods are either whole foods or are minimally processed, so it forces us to get back in the kitchen and cook.

If there is anything that is eschewed by the eat local movement, it isn’t spices, chocolate or coffee, it is fast food and industrially processed foods.

My goal for this month is to highlight local foods in my blog, and to talk about how I am working to preserve local foods for the winter, which is not only an interesting topic in the first place, but it is also passing on practical knowledge to others as well.


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  1. Hey, where in NH are y’all going to be? There’s a growing supply of farmer’s markets up there… and October is probably one of the top 3 months for eating local in NH. First frost comes in about halfway through the month, where I grew up, so you lose all the delicate summer veggies, but all the hardier things are still going strong.

    Comment by Abby Noyce — October 1, 2008 #

  2. We’ll be at Lake Winnipesaukee. Karl tells me that there are more and more farmer’s markets up there–each spring they come back, they find more and more local food.

    Comment by Barbara — October 1, 2008 #

  3. So, a side note I keep meaning to ask. What Farmer’s market did you go to in MD. I’m currently in the area and am trying to find the good farmer’s markets. I hit the Takoma Park one already.

    Comment by Rivka — October 1, 2008 #

  4. Rivka–I went to the one in Columbia–it was pretty good, but small compared to the one here in Athens.

    I am told that the one in College Park is pretty good.

    Comment by Barbara — October 1, 2008 #

  5. Yeah, I got to go to my parent’s in CA’s monstrous Farmer’s market.

    I’ll have to try Columbia, it’s only about 15 miutes away.

    Comment by Rivka — October 1, 2008 #

  6. I’m amused at the inclusion of soy sauce on your exemption list.

    I can buy Virginia-made tamari (adzuki or chickpea) in a very limited quantity certain times of the year. This stuff is soy-free and gluten-free (skimmed from the varieties of miso listed above) and fabulous. I usually stock up on chickpea miso when I order. You might look around and see if there are any Ohio-based miso producers.

    As far as coffee, it might not be grown locally, but I have more than two options for locally roasted beans, fair trade. That’s pretty cool, too.

    Comment by Jocelyn — October 1, 2008 #

  7. I’m blessed to have a connection to a fellow who owns a farm in Costa Rica. He imports coffee, as well as cacao and cocoa powder that he and his family grow. I feel better drinking his coffee and eating his cacao knowing for sure that he is using 100% organic and taking care of his land in a way that preserves it for generations to come.

    (They have a site here, with a “online shop coming soon” note!)

    Comment by starrrie — October 2, 2008 #

  8. I’m fortunate in that while chocolate may not be GROWN locally (I’m in the Boston metro area), we have an excellent organic stone-ground chocolate manufacturer right here in Somerville. Taza is awesome. They pay above-fair-trade prices to farmers, too.

    Comment by Laura — October 2, 2008 #

  9. Hey! I’m smack-dab in the middle of the Lake Winnipesaukee area – let me know if you need anything. I’ve got Lakes Region food resources listed on my website. Have a great vacation – the leaves around these parts are spectacular this year!

    Comment by Kim — October 17, 2008 #

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