Here's a link (below) to the article Angela wrote after we participated in the Eat Local Challenge a few years ago. As Angela said, it's a good eye opening experience. However, I think your approach here Krista to incorporate eating local on a year round basis is a great way to go.
Hi Krista - great conversation!
Although no one wants to live 100% local - the reality is that, at some point, we're going to have to. Those wonderful things we take for granted now will be scarce and expensive one day - hopefully not in our lifetimes, but that is a possibility.
I think some kind of publication could be created that:
- talked about all the foods can be available locally
- discussed how to get local proteins: animal and vegetable, starches, fats, etc.
- what and how to get enough to eat in the lean winter and early spring seasons
- provide recipes on yummy baked goods and other things that could replace our favorite faraway foods.
- included a discussion about things like sugar, cooking oils, baking powder etc., that would be hard to come by.
The people who post here are doing way more toward preparing for a post Peak Oil reality - but most of our community members don't understand the perils at hand. How do we educate them? A publication like this could be somebody's million dollar idea!
Krista Rome said:
Hi Angela & Others,
My two cents on the Eat Local Challenge is this:
It's far more difficult and daunting to eat 100% local for a few days or a week than it is to make a committment to eat a higher percentage (but not 100%) of local foods year round. I personally feel that it takes a lot of a) searching for food sources, b) changing of shopping and cooking habits, and c) adapting to a different diet in order to truly eat more locally in a significant way. This all takes time and real committment and is pretty hard to make that all happen with the snap of the fingers. It is great to bring out the awareness of local foods through things like Eat Local Month and the Eat Local Challenge, but if folks really want to make a change and have real effect, a focus on year-round local eating is most important.
The other side effect of the Eat Local Month is that it takes place at a time of year when it's real easy to just walk down to the Farmer's Market and find a bounty of fresh, local food for a well-rounded diet. Try that in January or April and you are S.O.L. Try it on a limited budget any time of year and you are S.O.L.
As a farmer I am convinced I could eat year round, a very well-balanced diet, from crops and animals that I can grow and process myself. I don't do so, but I know I have the skills to survive quite contentedly if ever I did give up my agave syrup, coconut milk, chocolate, and those darn rice chips from Deal's Only. The problem is, it's a lot of labor with very little return for things like hand harvested and threshed beans and grain, eggs and meat and nuts. We need to get as many folks as possible growing these things for themselves and their families and friends and neighbors, because these things are far better grown on a small scale in this climate rather than depending on tractors and large farmers to supply us all with the food like we are so used to with our farmer's market veggies.
That said, I applaud everybody who gives it a shot, especially if they are not gardeners and have to do the hard work of hunting down a complete diet to eat locally even if just for a week. It is one of the very most important things that can be done right now.
I'd love to talk to you one on one about your experiences. I know what you mean about figuring out what is most "efficient" to grow and live off of as opposed to all the other things...Call me sometime at 224-4757
How about writing a little featured article for our September Eat Local Month guide? 50,000 copies will be printed this year. I'm excited to be in conversation with you all about this topic. My master research and my daily work is all about how to make change in the food system - on the consumption and daily habits side.
The Food & Farming program aims to promote eating local year round - September is just the celebration of what people are doing already. We work in conjunction with as many organizations and individuals to create comprehensive ways that people can connect with local food.
The type of change we are reaching toward collectively as a community is comprehensive and transformative. It is a dynamic learning process for each eater to consider at each meal. Food based behavior change is uniquely challenging for each person in different ways.
Therefore, the way I approach the Eat Local First campaign is to start with the source of food. The majority of adults get their food at grocery stores and restaurants. While shopping, they are currently rarely asked to consider local, and seasonal.
We haven't asked folks (the general public) to commit to a week or even launched a challenge (like a % of local or a specific week) yet because of the complications you mention, and the facts that you outline. However, we do ask that businesses commit to shifting their food budgets by 10% each year to more diverse local purchases.
By working with businesses (including those at farmers markets, and hospitals and schools) to first pay attention to how much of their businesses food budgets is spent with local farmers and marine-based businesses, we can first make local and seasonal information available.
In tandem, we also need to increase the information about celebrating cultural and social change that includes food and food production into daily life! So much of our focus has turned toward the internet, computers, movies, buying new things, and overall consumption of things rather than that which gives us life - healthy interactions, healthy food and healthy soil and water.
Seasonal eating makes the most sense. I am loving the rise in interest in unique foods that can only be produced here. I doubt that people will stop being enticed by mangos and coconut and chocolate and coffee, but developing the local culture that values place-based foods that can be wild foraged, or cultivated only in specific seasons connects us to here, to each other, and to natural systems in the most important ways.
Food professionals like chefs and cooks and those who make the most decisions to bring us the food we have access to on a daily basis need a lot of edcuation about seasonal eating - besides the individual consumer. We are on the right path, and the rise of seasonal, ultra nutritive and place based foods is on its way. Just look at all the food media today, and the awards that Chef Betzel at the Willows continues to win. While those examples may seem too main stream to be related to Transition concepts, they are also educating people about alternative ideas en mass. When we at the local level can offer people the hands-on experiences that inform their daily choices, those that have also read about the ideas in advance will be more likely to be ready to make transformative changes.
As a side note: local is not a proxy for sustainable. We now know that food miles are only a small percentage of carbon footprint. On-farm impacts and practices are typically the largest percentage (since the majority of food is not produced on sustainable farms, this is pointing to chemical and large scale machinery use and overproduction of animals).
It will take all of us working together to make the type of shifts we envision! My hope is that Transition working groups will be more integrated into the community, and that we will be able to collectively increase the education and celebration of the new culture(s) of food.
warm regards - and here's to a much warmer summer!
Krista, I am just revisiting your list. I would love to get a handle on what is happening generally in Transition Whatcom these days and reconnect with you.
Thanks for your work in putting this list together!