Slow Food Challenge 2008: SWM w/o kitchen chooses his secret weapon

By David Hoza

As a single male without a good kitchen, far from the skills that made me a versatile baker and cook back in the day, I’m used to living with food on demand, whether from the supermarket, the whole foods market or the farmer’s market. Andrea and Mike Heidinger, who spearhead this year’s Slow Food Challenge, want participants to eat from the local, natural palette for a month, at least a week. I’m hoping I can make it through a day.

Finding substitutes for things like olive oil, coffee and baking powder can be more than a little daunting. Sure, you can make crackers and get by without bread, but can you make dinner when you haven’t been past the farmer’s market this evening, it’s getting late, the kids are whining and you’ve had a whirlwind kind of day? The blog at least offers a community bulletin board for recipes, stories and who’s got what where when. Community support may be the name of the game.

In preparation for the 2008 Slow Food Challenge, I’ve decided I really need to set my priorities. I figure what I got-ta got-ta do is find that one key missing ingredient in my home. With coffee, Luna Bars, and all the exotic spices of life on the way out, it’s certain I’ll want to hunt high and low and make certain I’ve got my honey in hand before anything else is decided.

Who wouldn’t want to start things right with some all natural, organic, locally grown honey? Of course the imagination runs away with the possibilities of a honey that comes from the hive next door, sweetening everything! I’d make everything with my honey. The big question would be what to leave my honey out of—in a partnership worldview, what would Honey prefer to be left out of?

The answer could be an elegant solution derived from a very local sense of place, as John Todd or U of U Professor Fred Montague might say. It sure don’t take no Goldilocks to know how much honey is “just right.” All you brilliant kitchen mavens know what I’m talkin’ ‘bout, mm-hm.

Without coffee, I imagine my honey sweetening up the morning, and for dessert, sweetening up the evening considerably. With this kind of satisfaction day in and day out, I might come to miss such pleasure in the heat of work and the day. Knowing where to find my honey, I wouldn’t have to go far, and that is a real source of pleasure and security, let me tell you.

Sure, I could wish for a little afternoon delight, savor honey very warm with fresh mint, but you know what they say; absence makes the heart grow fonder. We imagine the grail of opportunities to be a place where you could grow whatever you wanted whenever you wanted it. Imagine if you didn’t have to go all the way to Green River in the summertime to find yourself a honeydew! But the Slow Food Challenge is all about giving you the opportunity to experience in every season its turn, and we’d all get sick of honeydew this, and honeydew that.

The hardest thing in the world, I think, is just to let my honey be. You can imagine what expectations we have, what with Sweet Honey in the Rock, Tupelo Honey, (Mudhoney?) and the like. But life isn’t really worth living if you demand everything on your own terms. The Midas touch may give everything that sweet golden amber, yet turn to stone what you would own. Besides, look at what we have the possibility of having right in our own back yard! Humming ever so sweetly from the Wasatch, from high in the Uintas, from isolated ranges west as far as the Great Basin and the Deep Creeks, the ever so salacious Wild Mountain Honey, mmmm…!

The Slow Food Challenge 2008

Officially begins: August 16
Recommended duration: 1 week or 1 month
Find the Challenge: at your plate and market
Locally sponsored events: by Slow Food Utah, Wasatch Community Gardens, TreeUtah and The People’s Market. Check their websites for specific events.
Stories and recipes at:

The Challenge:

Eat naturally grown local foods from within a 250- or 100-mile radius of home. Challenge yourself! Eat only from the local, seasonal palette of natural foods! Find substitutes or alternatives to foreign ingredients and processed foods. Do without olive oil, coffee and imported meats and cheeses. Get to know ingredients of different packaged and restaurant foods, and find, create and make breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks that are made up of local, natural ingredients. Discover what natural foods grow in your neighborhood and surrounding region. Join others and support one another in a healthy, low-carbon, buy-local lifestyle experiment. Most of all, have fun!


The first local Slow Food Challenge was organized in 2007 by Andrea Henkels Heidinger of The Green Building Center, and led by Andrea and husband Mike. Andrea won the Utah Society for Environmental Education’s Educator of the Year award in recognition of the event.

David M. Hoza lived off the grid for 10 years. You can find him at


This article was originally published on August 1, 2008.