Tomorrow starts the sign-up for an Eat Local Challenge being encouraged by Chicago's Green City Market. I believe the actual Challenge is in September. I want to do my part in getting participation. Take an Eat Local holiday. You may not look back. A week or so ago, I posted some tips on how to eat local. Then, I realized the tips were a bit short of the practical. Those tips were better suited for someone already wading. What about someone still on the beach? Over a series of posts, I'll provide what I see as the basics on how to eat local.
The Eat Local plunge requires three pools: what's local; what's available local and where can I find what's local and available. The questions revolve around each other, but have to start with the parameter of what the heck do I mean when I mean local. How do you (or we) define local food. From what area can I get my food, so that the food would be considered local. Where is the wall that keeps in my local food and excludes all traf. Eating local is about eating food within this zone. There is, however, no church of local (or localvore). Define you locality as you want.
A hundred mile boundary is certainly used. See here to get an idea of what are falls within your 100 mile diet area. Your local does not have to be 100 miles. If you live in the Chicago area, you may find that a good portion of your 100 miles is lake water. Do you want that. Local could mean just eating food grown in Chicago. That's possible if limited, with Growing Power and City Farm and honey made in Garfield Park. You could fish the waters, although you could not find the same in any store. Your local can be your state, or it can be your region. I go for the last. I take an expansive view of local. I consider local any food grown, harvested or reared in the states that about comprise the Big 10 Conference. That is, for me, local includes Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan.
Grown, harvested, reared--what about made, manufactured or produced. Tricky. Most soft drinks are made with high fructose corn syrup derived with Big 10 corn, local? Mars candy? Generally, for me, local production is not enough. I'm looking at the ingredients. Still, as I say a lot, I am realistic. My family is finding more and more local grains, and I think we will be making use of it, but our pasta and bread is generally not made with local ingredients. We do seek out local producers of these things (if possible).
Define your local. Know where you can get food, and it will be possible to know what food is available. Likewise, know what is your local and you can be more comfortable with you exceptions. As I also like to say, I'm a believer in the don't make yourself nuts school of eating local. Use salt damn it (your body needs it) and pepper and whatever other spices you need to make your food taste good. Drink wine, coffee, pop. Be comfortable with your exceptions because it makes your commitment that much more real.