Slow Food Utah and Wasatch Community Gardens’ Eat Local Challenge is a great opportunity for you to come to grips with your feelings about agribusiness and learn all about eating local.
It’s possible your tomatoes are better traveled than you are. And they’re durable. But really, that’s not why anyone eats a tomato, or an orange bell pepper, that may have journeyed from The Netherlands, or pine nuts, fresh from China.
In general we don’t dwell on the fact that the food industry is driven by price efficiency rather than energy efficiency or ethical practice. But Slow Food Utah and Wasatch Community Gardens’ Eat Local Challenge is a great opportunity for you to come to grips with your feelings about agribusiness and learn all about eating local.
Eating local means supporting your neighbors—the money that you spend directly affects an individual in your community. Eating local also helps bring small farmers back from the brink of extinction. When you eat local produce, you are shrinking your carbon footprint. Finally, eating local allows you to get in touch with the seasons, to connect with Earth and eat what the earth produces at the time it naturally produces it. Eating local is a simple reminder to respect the natural order of food and support those who work with Earth, rather than using planes, trucks and trains to get around the inconveniences of the seasons.
Andrea and Mike Heidinger started the Challenge in 2007, inspired by an article in Orion magazine. In recognition of the first Challenge, Andrea won the Utah Society for Environmental Education’s Educator of the Year award. Since its establishment, the Challenge has helped to fortify the local food networks in Utah. Every year the Challenge community grows, making it easier to eat local and have fun doing it!
The Eat Local Challenge allows you to challenge yourself as much or as little as you feel you can handle. The purpose of the challenge is to educate, not demonize, guilt-trip or otherwise wound participants’ self-esteem. You can personalize your challenge by choosing the distance you want your food to travel (a 250 mile radius is the standard); the length of your challenge (between a week and a month); and how much of your food you want to get locally (anything from one type of vegetable to doing without imported meats and cheeses to the entirety of your victuals).
You can sign up for the challenge on the Wasatch Community Gardens’ website or at the Challenge Kick-Off, which will be held at the Grateful Tomato Garden (800 South 500 East, 1-5 pm) in conjunction with Wasatch Community Gardens’ Tomato Sandwich Party. Imagine: you can start your challenge off by eating fresh heirloom tomatoes that have traveled mere feet from the plants they grew on! There will be music and children’s activities as well. It’s also free.
Throughout the challenge you will receive recipes and information on local resources and events to fuel your challenge. The first week will end with a One Week Celebration and Potluck at the Grateful Tomato Garden on September 15 at 6 p.m.
On October 6 at 6:30 p.m., the Beehive Cheese Company will hold the One Month Celebration and Potluck. All participants are welcome, regardless of the length or intensity of their challenge. The Eat Local Challenge is a chance for you to meet people, find new recipes and eat delicious food—all the while supporting ethical food production and the local economy.
Hannah Korevaar was CATALYST’s summer intern; she has now returned to Wesleyan University in Connecticut where she is a Junior. We will miss her immensely.