Monday, September 10, 2007


this month is the Locavores Challenge. this, for those of you unfamiliar, is a voluntary (self-inflicted ~ ha! sorry!) commitment for a month to attempt to eat within a 100-mile radius of where you live. it's a great exercise, and quite an eye-opener! eating locally is the best way to get the most delicious, nutritious, freshest food. and is the best for good farmers, and especially our Mama Earth.
it's already part-way through the month, i know, but this is a great thing to be mindful of at any moment. an interactive Locavores network has been set up that is similar to Tribe, with people joining from all over to share and discuss their own schemes and trials in local eating.
here's Jessica Prentice's official schpiel, which i received via email:


Eat Local Challenge 2007: September

September is already upon us!

The last of the bounty of summer is still gracing our tables: luscious tomatoes, sweet corn, delectable green beans, and crisp, crisp apples. What to do with all the excess?

When we look at history, we quickly realize that having 30,000 items to choose from in the average American supermarket is only a relatively recent option. For the rest of human history, eating locally was a matter of practicality -- only the rich could afford imported food. The idea of eating within your foodshed isn't really all that revolutionary. Ask one of your older relatives about canning and pickling produce, about making their own jam and their own butter. These were common everyday practices well into the mid-20th Century.

And now is the season for all that canning and pickling and jamming and jarring. Now is the season to learn how to preserve the summer's bounty for the winter months.

So that's what this year's eat local challenge is all about: PRESERVING.

Check out the Eat Local Challenge blog for some recipes and advice.
Ask your older friends and relatives. Do some experiments in your kitchen... and then SHARE them with us!

That's right, the Locavores website is becoming interactive. There are tons of social networking websites out there... and there are plenty of blogs where people talk about food... but there hasn't really been a way to combine the two... and none of them have been geographically focused. So we came up with the LocavoresBlog.

Here, once you sign up, you can join a group for your geographic area. There you can share information about good local food providers, restaurants, CSA's, and food coops. You can ask other people in your area where the farmers markets are. You can share your favorite pickle recipe. You can organize local foods dinners. You can even upload your photos. You can form a community of people within a foodshed who care about supporting local, sustainable food production.

We're launching this site *today* -- so right now it's pretty bare. It's waiting for YOU to add the content. So let's get started!

You should receive an invitation to join shortly after this email. Simply respond and sign up. You can make your own page and then join up with a group. You can invite other members if you have friends or family who you think ought to know about Locavores. Enjoy each others' company. Tell us where the good food's at. Feel free to start a new group if you don't feel your area is represented. Surely there will be unforeseen glitches. We'll try to fix them as soon as possible.

Finally, you may have noticed that the local food movement (that's you!) has been getting a lot of press recently. Barbara Kingsolver's newest book, *Animal, Vegetable, Mineral* describes her year of eating locally.
She mentions the Locavores several times in the book.

More recently, in a New York Times op-ed piece, the historian James E. McWilliams sought to debunk the idea that choosing locally produced food automatically decreases one's carbon footprint. He warns that efforts to reduce food miles might actually support higher carbon emissions at the source. McWilliam's editorial has been much discussed and debunked in the blogosphere -- most notably by Michael Shuman here:
-- and we couldn't possibly do a better job.

We would just like to point out that focusing on food miles as the most important criteria in judging a food system IS dangerous. One of the lessons of the local food revolution that we are in is that ecological, systems-oriented solutions are often better in the long term than linear solutions. Fewer miles does not necessarily equal better and more socially and environmentally responsible food.

Like every problem worth thinking about, food justice is many-layered and complicated. There is no black and white solution. But there are many incredible thinkers and activists and chefs and gardeners and people like yourselves working on all the grey areas in between. Lots of people are working hard to overcome the brutal paradoxes of local food and class. Lots of people are trying to figure out how we can knit revitalized local and regional food economies into the current global one. And we are all trying to answer Wendell Berry's hard questions: "What will nature permit me to do here without damage to herself or to me? What will nature *help* me to do here?"

Locavores: Eat Here!

Don't forget to sign up for the LocavoresBlog once you receive the invite.

Sage Van Wing, Jessica Prentice, Jen Maiser, DeDe Sampson

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For more about the Locavores, please visit our websites: