local food

gone shopping for Eat Local Challenge

So for the start of my Penny-Wise Eat Local Challenge, I decided to go shopping. First I went to my local farmer’s market in Oakland, CA — a fairly large market with fairly sophisticated consumers. For this challenge I am not on a weird diet, I’m trying to eat like I normally do — otherwise it’s like I’m on vacation or trying a novelty. I want to eat local as a way of life, and it needs to integrate into my existing life. So at the market and at Farmer’s Joe’s — a local grocery store with lots of natural foods — I tried to buy what I normally buy being conscious of not only how close to home the food is grown (with the goal of only eating food grown within a 100 mile radius), but also its price, nutrition and whether it was grown organically or not.
My first venture to the local farmer’s market was a mixed bag. Only after having already purchased avocados and almonds from two different vendors did I find that they were from over 100 miles away. They were in the state of California, but farther than the distance dictated by the Eat Local Challenge. As almonds store well and my avocados are still hard, I’m going to try to not count these — meaning I won’t eat them this week. I did buy beets from Dirty Girl Produce (Watsonville) and some fresh eggs from County Line Farm (Petaluma). I boiled the eggs and baked the beets in Strauss butter (a local product.) This is what I’ll have for my lunch tomorrow (with a little sea salt — which probably didn’t come from within a 100 mile radius but easily could have if our economy wasn’t as such. It seems strange that the first item I eat for the Challenge that is not local is salt, when I can climb the nearest hill and see saltwater.) The estimated cost of this lunch — $3.75.

I’m also going to include a beverage with my meal: A homemade lactofermented (or lacto-fermented) nettle drink. Like one of the original sodas it is a living microbial culture with the carbonation coming from the excretions of these lactobacillus bacteria. I harvested the stinging nettles (possibly the most nutritious and sustainable vegetable for temperate climates) from the Regenerative Design Institute in Bolinas, CA. You can see this film on one of my previous blog entries. Since the nettle was wild and free, the only ingredient that I need to calculate into the budget is the Agave syrup I used as the sugar source. Agave is an amazingly beautiful succulent that is from Central America and is the plant where the sugar for tequila comes from. Although this plant can be grown in the part of California where I live, the Agave that I bought was definitely not grown here, most likely being grown South of the border. So I am going to exempt sugar sources from my 100 mile radius list, as the only locally grown source of sugar is honey (which is expensive and typically slower to ferment). Does anyone know of another sugar source grown in temperate climates? I hear rumors of Chicory syrup, but cannot find any definitive information. I estimate the cost of the Agave syrup to be around $1.25 — making the total for my lunch $5.00.

Check back in tomorrow to hear about my dinner.

Happy local eating!