In October we're co-sponsoring an Eat Local Challenge in Santa Barbara. This is something that I've wanted to do for quite some time. Perhaps the idea was planted when I first read Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. And perhaps the idea really came together after talking with Sam Edelman of the Farmers Market and realizing that this was something that we could do in conjunction with epicure.sb — the collection of food festivals and events throughout the month of October.
I particularly like the fact that it's for a month. It's long enough to feel like you're embarking on a challenge and yet not so long as to feel daunting. In fact, I think the interesting thing about it might end up being how very unchallenging it is. How can we feel deprived with all of our fantastic sources of produce, meat, seafood, honey, oils, wine and beer? And yet, perhaps there will be some interesting lessons to be learned. Why does Santa Barbara County not have a dairy industry? Why do we have to go up the coast to find artisanal cheese?
I also like the fact that I'm not embarking on this alone. Here in Santa Barbara County, the Isla Vista Food Co-op is doing an Eat Local Challenge for the month of October and nationally the group blog "Eat Local Challenge" will be doing one as well. So there will be ample resources and the feeling of a shared experience. We have just set up a Google Group called SB Eat Local Challenge where you can post questions and share information about finding sources of local food. There are already some great discussions up there about dairy, coffee and local sparkling water.
So consider participating in any way that you can. Whether you take the pledge to eat exclusively local foods for 31 days, or whether you just try to incorporate more local foods into your everyday buying habits, I think there are huge benefits to building this awareness of local foods.