For immediate release:
Local Food Cafe is sponsoring the Local Food Challenge this
September to find out just how much we eat locally and how
big a food foot print we leave in a week. The Challenge will
run from Friday, September 12th through Thursday, September
18th and is aimed at becoming an annual activity globally.
Discover how much of the food you eat is grown near by, how
much is from your region and how much travels across country
or across continents to get to your plate.
Why this challenge?
The closer food grows to your
kitchen, the fresher, riper and tastier it is likely to be.
Local fruits and veggies can be picked at their peak ripeness
unlike non-local which are usually picked underripe to reduce
damage and bruising during transport. Would you want to eat
a two-week-old hamburger? The same goes for fruits and veggies.
Fresh-picked looks, tastes, and feels much better.
Locally-grown food doesn't
have to stop at the gas station. When food
is grown nearby, it doesn't have far to travel, therefore
less gasoline (fossil fuel) is used for delivery from farm
to plate. Less gasoline means less pollution. Less pollution
means healthier air, water and people.
Local food helps the local
economy. Support the farmers in your town,
city or region and they'll help support you by stimulating
the economy with their business. An increased number of local
jobs and preservation of green space also increases the value
of an area.
Need more reasons? Buying local...
- Makes it easier to find out how organically it was grown
- Makes it easier to find out if farm workers are treated
well and paid a living wage
- Increases local food security
- Has greater nutritional content
- Preserves local food specialties and traditions
- Allows for more and better access to tastier heirloom
- Preserves genetic diversity
September is a month of local abundance in most of the northern
hemisphere with a full array of late summer and early fall
foods. In the southern hemisphere, there is usually a good
selection of early spring foods available. It should be realtively
easy to eat a complete, well-balanced diet from local foods
in September. If you're not eating locally during one of the
most abundant months of the year, either you're missing out
on a tasty and sustainable opportunity or there may be holes
in your local food security.
Local Food Percentage
your percentages for the week, follow these steps:
Add up the total number of pounds of food you
ate for the week. If you used a digital scale
this is straightforward. If you weighed in ounces,
remember that there are 16 ounces to a pound.
If you used cups or metric volume add as you would
For each category, make a fraction: # of pounds
(or cups) in category, over total # of pounds
Divide top number by bottom number to get your
How do I get in on the fun?
From September 12th through September 18th, check to see
where the foods you eat are grown. Measure the amount of each
food. Measuring by weight is best, but if you do not have
scales, please feel free to measure in cups or by metric volume.
As long as you stick with one measurement method for everything,
you will be able to evaluate your information.
Don't measure any tap/well water which you add to your food.
On the other hand, if you use bottled water, please measure
it and log how far it came to get to you. For instance if
you make soup, weigh the dry beans, onions, tomatoes, carrots,
peppers and spices, but not the water they are cooked in.
List the food and weight/measurement in one of the following
categories. The categories represent degrees of freshness
and amount of energy used for transporting the food. At the
end of the week, calculate out what percentage of your food
consumption falls into each category for a snapshot of how
locally you eat (see box for calculation instructions).
Food you or your family grew. May include food grown at
an earlier time which hasn't been processed beyond harvesting,
washing, and storing. Examples of food grown at an earlier
time and stored are potatoes, carrots in sand, cabbages,
apples, winter squash, etc. Fresh, maximum nutrients, generally
uses the least nonrenewable energy. Maximum possibilities
for avoiding pollution of all sorts. Note: you may choose
to eat this food fresh or cooked and still consider it in
Dried, canned, frozen, pickled, fermented. More energy used.
May or may not result in need for recycling or waste removal.
1 Square Mile
A 15- to 20-minute walk for most people. This is the amount
of walking that many people are willing to do on a regular
An hour walk for most people. An easy bike ride in terms
of distance. Likely within public transportation if public
transportation is available. People are less willing to
walk this on a regular basis, but it's quite doable for
most if there in some sort of transportation disruption.
This is drivable in an hour or less. It's likely been picked
within 24 hours of purchase. It is possible to get this
food by bicycle.
This is half a day on a truck. It's likely to be at least
one to two days old by the time of arrival.
A whole day on a truck. Lots of fossil fuel used, but still
could be fairly fresh.
Food is probably at least 3 to 5 days old. Food has come
from half a continent away.
Food is at least a week old and from across the continent.
Food is probably 1 to 2 weeks old, or lots of fossil fuel
was used to fly it somewhere. Food may have come from across
a continent or the sea.
Taking the Challenge further
While participating or once you have your percentages, discuss
your experience with friends, family and/or colleagues. Visit
The New Farm Talk
section and particpate in a General Discussion/Anything Goes
forum on the Challenge. Or, if you'd like to discuss local
food topics as well as this Challenge with the Local Food
Cafe group, subscribe to their e-mail list at LocalFoodCafefirstname.lastname@example.org.
Following are some aspects of local -vs- non-local food to
think about while taking the Challenge. Let these questions
lead you to discover even more about your local food system
and spark even broader discussions with other particpants
1. How much of your food
is grown within walking distance (3 miles or less)?
2. Are there any food groups
central to your diet that come from far away?
3. If you altered your shopping
to get as much local as possible, how did this affect what
you ate or the cost? Did you like the taste of any of the
items more or less than usual?
4. What items from more
than 3 miles away could be grown within the 3 miles? 50
5. Did you discover any
local fresh or prepared foods or markets that you hadn't
6. How much of your food
did you eat fresh/raw (without cooking)? (Note: For the
sake of your intestines, don't try to change a mostly-cooked
diet to an all-raw diet at one time.)
7. If you have a nutrition
program, did the local foods meet your overall nutritional
Finally, start increasing the amount of local food you eat
on a regular basis and support others who do the same. Some
ways you might encourage local food in your area: grow a garden
at home; particpate in a community garden; frequent Farmers'
Markets; join a CSA; patronize restaurants that grow gardens;
eat wildfoods; practice biointensive gardening, permaculture
and edible landscaping; buy from small local farms; learn
about SlowFood; use root cellars and home preserving; purchase
local or regional cookbooks.