Do you know where your food comes from? Would you rather support huge agri-businesses who truck or fly their mass-produced, pesticide-laden, non-biodiverse, genetically modified foodstuffs to you, or would you rather support the family farm down the road? If you'd like to see your local farmers continue to plant crops instead of housing developments, if you'd like to be more thoughtful about just where your food comes from, or are perhaps growing your own and are enjoying your garden's summer bounty, take a shot at participating in the August Eat Local Challenge.
Thanks to Liz, for being my inspiration in what is essentially a month long local food meme. Here's the original call to action:
What if all of our food decisions for a month were based on what was available in our foodshed? What is it like to eat only what's in season? What if we all became more aware of where our food really comes from? What if local businesses got the message that people actually care about where their food comes from because of the sheer number of people asking questions about sourcing?
Life Begins at 30, in association with Locavores, is pleased to bring you the August Eat Local Challenge. During this August, we challenge you to set some goals that will include eating food that is local to you. Life Begins at 30 will be hosting a month-long meme along with suggestions for how to do this, and an update of how everyone is doing.
You will be able to design your own Eat Local challenge, noting your level of participation (eat local all day every day, once a week, one big event during the month, etc) and your "exceptions" - those things that aren't local and that you won't be able to live without as long with other specifications.
By taking this challenge, you will be joining a group of bloggers and non-bloggers alike who are willing to make the effort during August to source their food and eat accordingly.
Interested? Move on to the Nuts and Bolts.
Need more convincing that local is the way to go? Move on to the Reference Guide.
I'm about a day late with this, but I should at least clarify a few things:
- What’s your definition of local for this challenge?
While I'll certainly aim for the recommended 100 miles, it's going to too limiting to try to stick with it for everything. I'll feel that I'm doing good if I stay within Maryland or close-in West Virginia or Pennsylvania.
- What exemptions will you claim?
Unless I want to eat only the typical Maryland summer farmstand diet of Silver Queen corn, cukes, melons, lopes, and tomatoes, I'll be claiming a lot of exemptions, mostly pantry staples such as olive oil, spices, condiments, and beans and grains. Part of what attracted me to this challenge is the realization of just how many of the foods I eat are produced hundreds or thousands of miles away - I want to be more mindful about what I eat.
- What is your personal goal for the month?
I gave it away with my last response. I want to be more mindful about what I eat. Given summer's bounty, August should be a fairly easy month for this kind of challenge, and it helps that I belong to a CSA that provides ample organically grown vegetables for us every week, yet it was only when I started to think about the meals I would be eating this month that I realized just how much of my diet is not local at all. (I'm beginning to sound repetitive, aren't I?) I hope, too, to discover some new local food sources - and already have made some headway just researching the links for my blog's sidebar. I figure that I'll be talking more about goals, and what this challenge is teaching me, as we go along. I want to enjoy participating in this challenge and I want you to enjoy it, too.
Now, for the important question: what's for supper? With temperatures in the upper 80s, I'm not much for cooking after coming home from the office. Today, the "sweat index" was compounded by the time I spent doing some yard work before dinner - just as it was alleviated by the discovery that a large number of the tomatoes in our garden are now ripe. We had a light supper of tomato bruschetta on roasted garlic toasts with Allegheny Chevre from FireFly Farms. We washed down our tasty repast with a nice cold Wild Goose IPA made by the Frederick Brewing Company. The bruschetta was nearly all local (the recipe is below), but we suspect the bread is mass-market stuff disguised as local artisan bread by our chain grocery store. FireFly Farms is less than 40 miles away, but we bought the cheese at My Organic Market when we were in Rockville this weekend - about 60 miles in the other direction. Frederick is about 30 miles away. Not a bad start, but then I didn't mention what I ate for breakfast or lunch. Let's not go there, eh?
Tomato Bruschetta (I've written about bruschetta before, and this recipe is slightly different, only slightly):
- Get as many ripe tomatoes as you want to eat. If you can, use a variety. Heirlooms are great. For firmness and texture, I prefer smaller tomatoes such as Roma and grape. Chop them up as coarse or fine as you like.
- Add diced red onion to taste.
- If you have a mild pepper such as a banana pepper, mince it and toss it in.
- Chop up some fresh basil leaves - as much as you like - and toss them in with the tomatoes.
- Dribble on some good olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Add a pinch of coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Stir.
- Serve on top of toasted garlic bread. Enjoy!