Lessons from the Eat Local Challenge
I can’t believe that this month is already over, and the Eat Local Challenge is done. I woke up this morning thinking about what I was going to have for breakfast – “I think I have some local granola and local milk left – used the local eggs up yesterday…” and then is dawned on me. This challenge has turned into a lifestyle. After one month, I am already unconsciously steering towards local food in my food decision process. Hurray!
For me the goal of this challenge was to become more conscious in my consumption of food – both through my pocket and through my mouth. It wasn’t about being perfect. I think overall, I probably ate about 80% local food. It was about learning to take the time to think before I put something in my mouth. It’s a pretty amazing feeling to look at the food in your house and realize that what you are eating is good wholesome local food. It’s empowering when you can put a face to all the food in your kitchen. What I learned is how important that connection is between the Farmer and the buyer. I realized more and more that what I choose mattered. I got to know how the Farmers season was going, what was at its peak and what was coming in. I became intensely grateful for their labor to feed me. I learned to honor their harvest by not throwing it out and grabbing fast food – but to take a little extra time preparing and savoring their crop.
So here are a few of the things I learned this month:
- Less is more – whether that meant buying less meat (because it was more expensive) or preparing food really simply – less is more. I was satisfied with less.
- Buying food every couple days is a really hard transition to make. I had to seek out Markets and buy in small quantities that would only last a day or two. This took a lot more time than running to Sam’s and stocking up for the month. However, after about 2 weeks, it became part of my food culture. I transitioned from American to European.
- Community happens around food – being around like minded people was key in this. I loved seeing the same people several times a week at the Markets. Sharing a local meal with friends and family brought us closer together and collectively more conscious.
- I didn’t feel deprived. Since this wasn’t a diet, I never felt deprived. I could satisfy my sweet tooth with locally made pastries or pie. Sure sometimes I craved that fast food taste, but even when I indulged in something that wasn’t local – I was sadly disappointed. There was no taste, no flavor – it was flat.
- I thought about the future. For the first time I froze corn and canned tomatoes to prepare me for the winter months without my summer crops. I was transported to a time when that was a way of life. If you wanted to eat more than potatoes in the winter, you prepped in the spring and summer. I might just be addicted.
Yes, this was a month long challenge and it certainly felt like a challenge at times, but it has become a way of life. Honestly, I don’t think I can go back. I knew all the reasons to eat locally, I had done my research, but this made me put my money where my mouth was. Change has taken place, and I am better because of it. Thank you to everyone who participated in this with me, and thank you to all my farmers and local vendors who made this a delicious process.