Today is the day before I start the Eat Local Challenge, in which for the whole month of June, I will only consume foods grown or produced within 200 miles of New Orleans.
The past week I cleaned out my fridge of perishables and took a trip to Hollygrove Market to stock up on local produce. I purchased their "box"; for 25$ I received 2 cucumbers, zucchini, onions, strawberries, blueberries, carrots, potatoes, peppers, spinach, green beans. I also got some local milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, brown rice, tomatoes, and salad mix. I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but it all came to about 50$.
I also have some tomatoes and herbs growing in my garden (whoo!) and my friend Matthew has a beautifully wild garden around the corner with lots of makings for tea as well. The New Orleans Food Co-Op along with other participating sponsors are giving challengers discounts at their establishments for the month.
The challenges I think I am going to face personally are:
1. Eating the produce before it goes bad. I love to cook, but my kitchen is so small. It's also hard to cook for only yourself. I am going to need to make an effort to cook at home more and do meal prep, especially because I wont be able to just go and "grab" something somewhere else. I'll have to get use to lugging around a large thing of filtered water (especially with the temperatures getting hot!) It is awesome though, that I work at a place that tries to source most of their produce locally already! We are making some special dishes throughout the month at The Green Fork that are local from start to finish (with pecan oil from Inglewood Farms!)
2. No coffee of pastries. My options on beverages are going to be slim. I've been bottling filtered tap water for the past week (and I have the local milk). I am also looking for some local kombucha, which I know exists but of course the minute you want it, can't find it. If I drank alcohol I wouldn't have so much of an issue; there are tons of local beverages of the drunken sort to imbibe. But my thing is coffee and pastries! I am excited to see the difference no caffeine and sweets makes to my health. And no chocolate. And no cookies...(wahhh!)
I am doing the Ultra-Strict level of the challenge. I am also participating in a health survey. Tonight at the Kick-Off Party on the rooftop garden at Rouse's (Oh-la-la), a Touro doctor will be there to take my vitals, etc. At the end of the month they will check them again and the person with the most improved health will win a prize. Thing is, I'm already pretty healthy! I work at a juice bar, so I eat fresh, local and organic food all the time. I don't drink alcohol or smoke, and I ride my bike up to 10 miles on any given day. That's another thing; getting food on my bike. There are tons of participating farms that are "local", but I can't necessarily ride my bike up to 200 miles to get food (or can I...)
I think I am going to miss those healthy items that are not particularly local the most; my chia seeds, flax seeds, grape seed oil, coconut water. And also being aware of what I am unconsciously putting in my mouth at work will be hard, tasting to make sure the product is right. I may have to flub on that.
There are a bunch of restaurants participating in The Challenge (not even counting the places that use local produce anyway), so eating out shouldn't be an issue. If anything, it'll be an opportunity to try new places. It is one of the things I love about New Orleans.
So today after work, I'll be at a coffee shop, enjoying my last decadent bites before the month of June. Oh, the coffee! I will be attending tons of fun workshops and events throughout the month, so stay posted, and send me some positive energy that I will stay strong willed against sweets and treats!
(I have to also mention in the face of the recent protests against Monsanto company, which I attended and fully support, eating local, organic and growing your own produce is pretty much the best form of non-violent and non-confrontational protest).