Well, just one week to go until the 2011 Eat Local Challenge begins. Since this is the 4th annual Challenge, I have learned a few tips to make sure I am ready to go on the very first day - which means we need to start now.
First, we need to eat up any non-local food we have in the house that we won't be eating during the Challenge - that little bit of ice cream in the freezer, those cheeses in the fridge and even the loaf of bread still in the breadbox. Not that we will go hungry with ice cream from Sweet Dreams, cheese from Cypress Point and bread from any of our locally-owned bakeries.
Next, we must make sure our pantry is stocked - basics like oil, vinegars, spices and herbs can make the difference between a bored locavore and a happy one! If you have decided to include them, also check your stock of grains, beans, flour, sugar and yes, butter. Consider using some substitutes during the Challenge - local ground corn products for cereals and flour, local honey in place of sugar, and while I suppose you could make your own butter - let's just not go there!
Finally, we check to see if we have enough pet food, dishwashing soap and paper products to last the month. I really try not to enter any big-box stores during the entire Challenge, although last year, I found myself doing late night runs (in disguise, of course) to get dog food and toilet paper. This year, I am stocking up in advance!
The Eat Local Challenge is not a road map to Locavore Nirvana, it is just a chance to see if you can eat a little closer to home, a chance to have fun with a new way of eating, and a chance to shake things up. Make the Challenge fun - get together family and friends to cook most of your meals at home, but be sure to visit some of our locally-owned restaurants that source local food.