Yesterday I registered for the Gainesville area Eat Local Challenge starting May 1st.
What is the Eat Local Challenge, you say?
The basic challenge is to eat something local every day, just to get more aware of what foods are available locally (within 100 miles) and what’s in season. A surprising variety of foods are available to people in Alachua County in May, easily enough variety to make even a 100% local diet not just interesting but enjoyable, but the percentage of local foods you eat every day is up to you. Many people make personal challenges such as spending 25% of their grocery budgets at the farmer’s market, or only eating local meat. How you do the challenge is up to you. Eat Local Challenges happen all over the country, all through the year, starting with an online challenge in 2005. Stefanie Hamblen of Hogtown Homegrown and Illegal Jams started the Eat Local Challenge in Gainesville in 2007 and organizes them every year to introduce more people to the incredible Gainesville area “foodshed“.
The Eat Local Challenge is always exciting for us. We eat already eat local food every day, but the ELC month is when I go searching for new foods and new farms. The past two years I’ve focused ELC months on sourcing kitchen staples and more sustainably raised meat. This year’s ELC is special- we’re moving during the month of May! I know my life is going to be too chaotic for anything rigorous like a 100 mile diet, so for the month of May I will focus on the most local of foods… those you grow yourself.
The number one reason we chose this house was the large yard and small vegetable garden. I am diving into piles of books on permaculture design, native plants, butterfly and wildlife gardening, and perennial vegetables every evening, cramming before I start planning the new garden. But I still have two planted vegetable beds and food plants in my tiny yard now, and I want to get as much food out of them as possible. So the month of May will focus on growing your own food: building raised beds, composting, creating food guilds for our new microclimate, and planting perennials.
Come see me cook in public! Eat Local Challenge month starts with a Kickoff celebration on the 29th at Citizen’s Co-op on south Main Street. I am doing a short cooking demo, but I haven’t chosen what to cook yet. Any suggestions?