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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Eat as local as we can!


I'm sure you've heard me mentioning the May Eat Local Challenge a few times before. My friend Jen at Life begins at 30 joins up with Locavore to organize this challenge. I am going to take her up on it. And I hope you will too.

You don't really need me to tell you why we should eat more locally grown food, do you? You know it's a good idea to reduce our dependant on oil: all those gas-guzzling trucks and planes shipping food from who-knows-where to where-you-are can't be good for the environment. You even like the idea of supporting local farmers and local artisans. Diversity makes for a nice environment to live in, no? If the entire San Francisco Bay Area looks like the Financial District, where are you going to hike on Sundays?

Are those your arms thrown up in the air? Is that a shrug I see? You're giving up before you even got started? Eating Local is easy for me to say, that's what you think, yes? I live in bountiful California. I have access to farmers markets and all kinds of amazing local produce that you would never see at your farmers market -if you even have one, that is. How are you going to do it?

But wait a minute, no one asks you to eat exclusively local! I'm not going to make you stop drinking your morning coffee unless you live in Columbia, Ethiopia, Indonesia or have a coffee plantation within 100-mile radius. I'm not even asking you to give up your Caribbean Bananas. I'd never say that we should abolish global trade and only eat what we can find in the 100-mile radius of where we live. No. That would be foolish. Even the gang on Lost has to rely on Dharma canned food air-dropped from the sky!

What I am asking you –yes, you- to do is to use the month of May and our Eat Local Challenge to perhaps change a few things, to eat more local. If you could help reduce -even just a little bit- our dependence on oil and help your local economy by supporting local farmers and artisans, why wouldn't you?

You don't really need to have access to farmers markets to join our challenge. Just try a locally-run market instead of going automatically to Safeway. Look around your neighborhood, you might find one or two that you've never been to before. Why not go in and take a look? Chances are your small locally-run markets will stock some produce and other food from your local area. There might be a few things there that strike your fancy, and they might even taste pretty good.

And if you do have a farmers market nearby, why not drop in to see what's on offer? You never know what marvelous things you might find. Like these gorgeous edible flowers I found at my market on Saturday in the photo at the top of this post. The yellow ones are Rapini flowers, and the white ones are Arugula flowers. The Rapini is great sauté with a little olive oil and garlic, and the Arugula flowers are just delicious in a salad. I don't think you can get them at Safeway, do you?

Look at your shopping list, perhaps there's an item (or two, or four) on that list that you might be able to substitute with something from your local area. See if you can do that at least for the month of May. Better yet, see if you can make that change permanent.

Even if each of us makes only one or two small changes in your everyday buying habits, together we can make a big difference. Yes, yes, I am edging dangerously close to telling everyone to hold hands and sing kumbaya. I'd better stop now or we shall all commit social seppuku.

Just one little thing before I go: a big change is sometimes just a composite of a lot of small little ones. Why not be a part of it?

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