So, 30 days, 30 challenges, 30 different local foods. How did I do on the NOFA-NY Locavore Challenge? Let’s just say I’ve always been my harshest critic, but I’d say that I “passed.” Let’s look at the numbers:
On Food: From 30 days, I ate mainly or strictly local for 28. Of the 30 different food recommendations, I ate 18 with a few additional substitutes (e.g. local cantaloupe for watermelon). I certainly improved with regards to certain staples: I really cut back on pasta, and I sprang for the local tortilla chips. I also made my own celery salt, which wasn’t strictly local (the salt) but gave a different flavor with the dried local celery added in. Speaking of flavor, I tried local sunflower oil, which was something I’d never had before. While not a huge purveyor of eating out, I did cut back on my restaurant dining. I asked a lot of questions about my food from farmers/artisans, and tried to make local choice when a choice was available to me.
On Challenges: Some of the challenges weren’t, really. I mean, I already shop at the greenmarkets, have a plot in the community garden, and don’t eat sugar (no need to swap out for honey or maple syrup, which I already routinely do). Other challenges were a push: For example, with this blog I set out to write all 30 days (I wrote 19 posts, if you count the two pre-September posts and today’s). While I “failed” at 30 posts, I did post roughly 19 more times in a month than I normally do! Certain challenges were fun, rise-to-the-occasion affairs, and others I simply didn’t even attempt to undertake (some because I simply couldn’t – no iPhone for apps, no car for farm visits – others because I didn’t have time/resources/desire to try). From the 30 daily challenges, I completed 17, or roughly the same success rate I had with FotD.
On My Personal Locavore Journey: I think I did pretty well with this. While I’m always passionate about food and food policy, this challenge really brought local food to the fore; I found myself thinking about what I was eating in a way I haven’t since days of dieting (and those days are long gone!). Simply making a better choice when it was available to me (the tortilla chips, for example, are roughly the same price as the store-bought GMO-enhanced brand) was a solid step forward. I also became better acquainted with NOFA-NY (I’ve known several of its key leaders, having met them at various food conferences) and other organizations trying to make a difference in the foodshed at a grassroots/policy level.
So, what will I do differently moving forward? Probably not a lot, to be honest. I don’t really think I’ll ever be a one-percenter, to coin a phrase: I will always source some of my food outside the local chain, whether its a great beer from Europe or a stress-free dinner at the local sushi joint. However, if I can narrow down my 10-percent non-local to 5 percent, I would consider my growth significant.
I so admire permaculturists who live in a way that harkens back to a simpler time. I do not mean that in a condescending way at all; I mean it sincerely. I’ve been reading a few blogs by communal farmers who live quietly and leave almost no carbon footprint in what they eat or how they survive. I would love to keep chickens (which is allowed in NYC, but I would still need a space in which to keep them) or learn to butcher (I am squeamish about this, but probably everyone who eats meat should slaughter an animal at least once in her lifetime) or make my own cheese. For now, I do what I can do and the Locavore Challenge was challenging, even to me. There’s still a long way to go, but every step away from the factory food chain is a good step to take.
Thank you NOFA-NY for throwing down a gauntlet I was happy to pick up. Maybe next year I’ll rise even higher to the occasion!