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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

We're going local at our house!

We are gearing up for something new at our house. We are going to eat locally for the month of September!


You can follow along with me via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, I'll also be using the hashtag #eatlocalmonth, so feel free to join in the fun! Of course, I'll be blogging about it periodically, too!
Why is it important to us to source our food locally? Ultimately, it boils down to this: we want to be able to shake the hands that produce our food. That way, we can know that our money is helping support local farmers and businesses. We can more easily know if our food was ethically produced. Also, as a wonderful side effect, eating locally produces much healthier eating habits. All of the foods we're able to purchase directly from the grower are also whole, real foods. Not to mention that they are also fresher, as they haven't been shipped across the country before they make it to my plate!
The goal of this challenge is to make a short term, drastic change in our shopping methods in order to, hopefully, help us create some doable, long term habits to help us support local farming and eat healthier. Of course I don't expect to keep this up forever, but I find that it takes about a month to create new habits (or reinstate old ones) in my life. It's like a kick-start or a boot camp, if you will.
As a side note, I'd like to add that I was invited to apply for, and got accepted into, the Village Green Network! It's a great community and resource for bloggers, and I'm honored to have been accepted in! I haven't had much time to delve into their resources, but I've already made some new friends. My friend Tara at We Got Real shared this article she wrote about why her family strives to shop local. My other new friend, Katja, over at Savory Lotus shared this post that she wrote about her family's local shopping habits. Great inspiration as I gear myself up for a new way of grocery shopping!

The ground rules

I'm not much of a rule follower, especially when I'm the one making the rules! However, I do need to have some type of framework in mind as i approach feeding my family well, and especially if I am trying to make changes. Otherwise, well, it never ends well. Usually at a drive through...
This is going to be a two phase challenge:

Phase 1: Do not purchase anything that was not locally produced.

Phase 1 will last for the first two weeks, from September 1-14
This means we will be buying from our local farmer's market, a nearby dairy farm (that sells a few other things, like chicken and eggs), and directly from a few other farmers. Nothing else. We will eat up what we have in the house, because that makes good sense. I will buy the bread and pasta available at our farmer's market, even though I'm not sure where they source their flour from. We're also looking into joining a CSA. We're going to take a tour on Saturday.
My goal for the first two weeks is to push myself to find local sources for all of our staple items like fruits and veggies, dairy and meat. Hopefully, I'll also find a source for some grains, too, but I'm not so sure. If not, I'll buy the bread and pasts from the market, like I said, and use up the rice, pasta, and flour I have in our house. I'm also curious to see what I'll do for oils - I'm pretty sure I can find butter, and I can render the fat from the meats I buy. As for flavoring, there are herbs, garlic, onions and the like. It will be limited, but I'll just have to get creative. (and maybe lower my standards a little...)

Phase 2:  Do not purchase anything that was grown farther away than 200 miles, and wasn't purchased directly from the producer. (In other words, only one middle man.)

Phase 2 will last for the rest of September.
We have a great fruit stand not far from our home that offers all kinds of locally produced, dairy products, honey, and much more. It's not the same as being able to talk to the farmer firsthand, but it's still nice to keep our money supporting small, local farms. Heck, we might even take a field trip out there at some point. This will be more convenient and, let's face it, I'm going to be having a baby sometime around the end of September. I've got to be realistic, I figure. Not everything they carry is locally produced, though, so I'll have to do my homework.
Our local grocery store also has a special label in the produce section for local items.

The fine print:

You'd better bet I'm thinking ahead! I've got a few circumstances that I'm sure will come up, and I do plan on compromising a bit.
1.) We don't turn down free food at our house. Unless it's unhealthy and we really don't like it, we go by the whole "eat that which is set before you" ideology. I joke that it's a rule of being married to a seminary student. Sooo...if someone wants to buy me Chic-fil-a when it finally opens next month...I won't turn you down. Go ahead, judge me.
2.) If the kids seem to have a hard time with their options, I may buy them a stash of snacks that they are used to, such as goldfish crackers. Because, seriously, they are bottomless pits and I just don't want to fight that battle. They eat well at mealtimes, and we always choose healthyish snacks. So, there you go.
3.) Eating out - if the baby comes early, or I find myself just too incapacitated to cook one night, I will neither kill myself trying to chop veggies and create a locally made meal nor resort to drive thru. Dennis and I talked it over (yes, he's definitely in on this, although perhaps not as nerdily excited as I am) and we plan to support a small, local restaurant and not a national chain when we eat out. Honestly, this is what we usually do, anyway because the food's better that way. Also, there's a soup/salad bar just about 15 minutes from our house that is owned by the same family that owns that fruit stand I was talking about in my description of phase two. They use some of their own produce there, so it would be like earning bonus points if we chose to eat there, right?
What does your family buy that's locally produced? What would you have a hard time finding or giving up?
Don't forget to find me at #eatlocalmonth on Facebook, twitter, and Instagram!

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