I’m on Day 10 of the Dakota Local Food Challenge—in the home stretch! Here are a few things that I’ve learned so far:
- Eating locally the majority of the time in September—especially while living on a farm—is pretty easy. We have our own eggs, pork, beef, and chicken. The pork and beef was processed at Frohling’s, the wonderful local processing facility just 20 miles away, which means we have delectable processed meats such as brats and ham as well. The garden is yielding as many vegetables as we can eat, and our apple tree has been overloaded this year, which means the basis for lots of great desserts as well. So I realize I’m in this challenge with a significant advantage. But even if you don’t live on a farm, the farmers market in the area are providing a wonderful variety of great vegetables and fruits right now. September is a time of local food bounty here in the Dakotas, when eating local is far more delicious than eating from the grocery store.
- Snacking on local food is not easy. In our household we typically set aside some time to cook meals, but there’s no time in the day to prepare local snacks. Sure, I can grab an apple. But there are only so many apples a person wants to eat in a day. I’ve also had several travel days in the past week, and trying to find local food near the interstate is pretty much impossible. So the end result has been that I’m snacking a lot less. Which has yielded a side benefit — I’ve lost about 4 pounds since the local food challenge started. I’ve toyed with the idea of keeping the “only local snacks” rule going forward and see if that keeps the weight loss going.
- Condiments are challenge. I gave myself quite a bit of leeway in the condiments that I use to prepare or to eat with local foods, but even so, I ran into several that weren’t on my list. Syrup to put on local apple pancakes! Mayo for BLTs with local bacon, lettuce and tomato! So I admit I cheated on these items. This is intended to be more of a learning exercise than a form of punishment, and this is one of my lessons.
- Some foods require more of a time commitment than I have. I was hoping to start baking bread during the challenge. Maybe there are other busy people working at home who can make this work, and maybe I could even make it work at some point, but I haven’t been able to see enough time in my schedule or space to focus in my brain to give it a try. Bread baking still on the “someday” list.
- Hospitality trumps food rules. On a couple occasions this week, I’ve been in situations where someone else has cooked for me, and the food is not local. On these occasions, I’ve put the food challenge on hold in order to honor the work that went into the meal (which was absolutely local) and the spirit of hospitality in which it was served. I figure I can be picky and high-minded on my own time.