November 2014. Written as an Editorial Researcher for Lexicon of Sustainability.
The concept of eating locally in the modern era is nothing new; from grocery store stickers to farmer’s markets gaining popularity, most people are aware of the benefits of eating locally. While many of us have incorporated more locally grown and produced foods into our diets, the Eat Local Challenge is an engaging and creative way to bring more of these foods into our everyday life. It is also a great tool for helping us realize how many foods we regularly consume are simply not native to or available in our regions.
As a Mississippian, I would be hard pressed to find a local pineapple, for example. However, the message behind the Eat Local Challenge is to look for creative ways to incorporate the foods which can be grown near us into our everyday diets. Additionally, while many foods are available to us locally, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the ones in our supermarkets are local. While doing a weekly shop recently, I picked up some onions. While onions are an easily grown crop in my region, the ones in the store had traveled hundreds of miles to reach me. Instead, I picked up some local ones while at the farmer’s market that day. Eating local doesn’t mean doing without, it simply means taking the time to research and make sure you are taking advantage of your local food shed.
Another important component of this knowledge is making sure you are familiar with the growing seasons of your area; for instance, the South is well known for delicious, juicy strawberries. I have my fill of these in the summer and autumn months as I know they won’t be available during other times of the year. By living with the seasons, we come to appreciate the natural growing schedules of the food around us rather than seeking out produce which most travel long distances and be grown outside of their normal conditions to be enjoyed year round. The Eat Local Challenge is a perfect way to become more aware of where your food is coming from and also the local bounty you could be missing out on. Visit the website to see some great ideas about seasonal food, including some delicious recipes.