You’ve said yes! Now what? How do you plan? Make the Challenge your own. Consider…
How long will you go?
This campaign suggests 10 days. Why?
If you are totally new to local eating, if there is little local food in your markets or grown around, then a good faith effort to eat, for even just one day, from your 100 miles will open your eyes – and let us see through your eyes how far from local your location is. You’ll be surprised at what you can find. And your reports will help everyone understand the problems and delights with our food system.
Any amount of time is worth it; ten days, though, is a good goal. It’s long and hard enough to put you through the whole transformative process, the self-discovery, the new skills and relationships, the empowerment and ultimately the deeper caring about your place and people.
It’s not so long, though, that you can’t fit it into your busy life.
If you go on trips during your 10-day challenge, you can divide your time in two – do 10 days at home however long that takes. Or you can keep it going but consider wherever you are as the center of your eating circle.
How local will you go?
The 10-Day Local Food Challenge Pilot suggests 100 miles as the crow flies (not as the windy roads go). Why?
One hundred miles is a hefty eating radius. Even in the heart of Manhattan, 100 miles gets you far up the Hudson Valley, deep into Pennsylvania, out to the Hamptons on Long Island. Hundreds of Farmers’ Markets dot that landscape. There’s a lot of food!
Get out your Google Map. Draw your 100-mile circle. This cool tool helps. Ask a search engine to find the Farmers’ Markets in your eating radius. See if you now feel okay with this eating radius.
If 100 miles doesn’t seem do-able, pick a radius that will stretch you without breaking you.
If 100 miles seems too easy, well, try for 50. Or 25. Or 10. Home gardeners can register for a 1-mile or 1-acre or 100-feet diet. Up to you.
And if you still can’t find enough food from your region for your 10-Day Local Food Challenge, this is very important information! It tells us what’s missing. Armed with this information, we’ll all be empowered to ask our grocers, restaurateurs and congress-people to support the amount and types of local food produced in our eating radius.
What will you eat?
We all eat, every day. Most of us do so many times. Current food categories might be: “expensive.” “fast.” “healthy.” “fattening” – but few of us have taken “local” as a focus.
Local eaters start by surveying what they currently eat, and then seeing how much actually grows in their eating radius. Here’s a checklist of food categories to help you think about foods you might want to find for your 10-day experiment.
Where will you find it?
10-days. Maybe 25,000 calories. How will I have enough food, enough variety, enough pleasure to be glad I’m doing it?
Just finding the food sends you on an adventure of discovery.Google is our friend once again. Search for Farmers’ Markets in your eating circle. Search for Farm Stands. The micro-local food scene is changing so rapidly that you’ll need to confirm sources the old-fashioned way: with your own eyes and ears.
Check your grocery store. When in doubt, ask the grocer. Just because something was bottled in Petaluma or Burlington doesn’t mean the ingredients are from Petaluma or Burlington. You decide whether such foods are part of your challenge or not.
Ask around. Especially for not-yet-legal local foods, like udder-direct raw milk or some non-USDA approved cuts of meat or eggs. BTW, don’t tell people about these sources.
Now for exotics
What foods necessary to your health and happiness are missing? Make a list. Prioritize. Pick 10 – or less – as your permitted exotics.
Hint: Five foods make it onto most lists – oil, salt, caffeine, lemons, chocolate – but these may not be your top picks.
Hint: Don’t just say “tropical fruit” – too generic. But you can say caffeine if you drink both tea and coffee regularly.
Hint: Herbs and spices are your dearest friends when your food choices are constrained. Herbs grow everywhere. Spices need tropical climates. What 5 spices do you use most often? Together they can be one exotic.
How do I cook this stuff?
If you don’t normally “cook from scratch,” it may be a mystery how to turn a turnip, an onion and a chicken thigh into dinner. In any search engine, type “recipes by ingredients” and lots of help is on the way. Here’s one tool that popped up with that search. By no means the best or only.
If you do the 10-Day Local Food Challenge with a group of friends, cooking together, learning from one another, sharing food can make it easier, more interesting and fun.
How do I join others?
The 10-Day Local Food Challenge was developed in 2014 and 2015 in relation to Vicki Robin’s book, Blessing the Hands that Feed Us; Lessons from a 10-mile diet. Watch her TEDx talk here and her explanation at the Food Tank Summit of the Challenge here. This website is a gift to others who want to use the simple structure of the challenge to build their own local food muscle and possibly a local food community. It is yours if you want it. The Facebook Group continues as Facebook Groups do – they never die! Feel free to populate it with your local food community.