Sunday, August 01, 2010

Eat Local Challenge Madison, WI

(Alt. title “Eat more local food, dammit!”)

So I just signed up for the Willy Street Co-op’s Madison Wisconsin Local Food Challenge (accessible from the link in the title above). The challenge runs from August 15 – September 15, 2010 and was created in part to encourage people to eat more local food at all levels – from “toe in the water locovore” to “hard core.” One of the reason I have chose to do this was to connect myself more to the community in which I live – to seek out local food producers to support (agriculture being one of the three legs South West Wisconsin commerce stands on. The other two being Biomedical and Tourism: ).

It’s funny to me that most of the other reasons for choosing a local diet are not so big picture (food tastes better, more nutritious etc.)-taste is not always the highest factor on what I choose to eat, and I think most people in the Middle Class have good nutrition. I also see the rational behind people who are AGAINST the local food movement. Many times, there is not a “conservation of motion” when it comes to individual farmers driving food to the city from a farm (although looking at other countries, I think our mainstream food delivery system is a bit of a dissent.) Also, local does not equal organic or native (although it does perhaps more times than conventional).

I took the pledge to be an “Extreme Locavore: everything you eat is locally grown, with a few exceptions” I wish, once you signed up, you were able to start chatting and discussing and finding recipes about local ingredients, but I think you have to wait for an email. The co-op (which – hallelujah – will soon have a store closer to me ) does have purple stickers (also above) that denote locally grown or prepared items.

So here are some of my thoughts:

1.) Do not change what you eat dramatically. I usually have toast or cereal for breakfast + coffee (coffee may be one of my “few exceptions” unless I can find a locally produced caffeine, or decide to take it in pill form as a drug - although I pledge to consume locally prepared, and, where I can, organic and fair traded coffee – although the “fair trade” aspect is taking some fire:,9171,1926007,00.html )

2.) You must continue to have “exercise” be part of your “diet” – that is, the movement of your body directly effect (and is effected by) what you put in it. Biking, walking and Pilates will have a lot to do with managing my dairy intake from August 15-Sept 15.

3.) Concentrate on fiber, protein, fat and carbohydrate balance (as well as vitamins and minerals). I plan on continuing to take a multivitamin during my “challenge” and so don’t think I run the risk of getting rickets in a month.

4.) Realize there will be a real expenditure of time. From research to planning meals to preparing food, I think this will take some thought and some elbow grease.

5.) Plant to keep things interesting – explore what native people ate as well as the local settlers of the area (French, German, Swiss etc.) as well as Italian, Irish, Mexican and any other group that can use the in-season produce and stored items of your location.

6.) The simpler the food, the easier it is to keep it local. For instance, cleaning and cutting up local cukes, carrots and summer squash, or eating local cheese curds as a snack = awesome. Bread and beer pose more intricate challenges (are all the ingredients local?).

That’s all for now – I am off to do some research, pose some questions to the local community, and will post more soon!

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