Community, Food & Health, Local Harvest
Take the Eat Local challenge – Sept. 7-14
Visiting a farmers market is the easiest way to find locally grown food. Here’s why you should make the effort:
“Local” food has different definitions. Some say it’s local within 100 miles. Others, up to 500 miles,” says Gwen Crist, chair of the board of directors for Slow Food Utah and committee member for Utah’s Eat Local Week. “For me, it’s about getting to know what grows locally in your foodshed—the geographic area between where food is produced and where it is consumed.”
Utah’s Eat Local Challenge started in 2007, just one year after Michael Pollan’s influential book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, made people think more deeply about where their food was coming from; and the same year “locovore” officially entered the lexicon. Andrea and Michael Heidinger of Salt Lake City decided, along with a few friends and acquaintances, to eat only food produced within 250 miles of their home.
Not only were they able to find enough food to eat, they found great food they hadn’t known about, from places like Morgan Valley Lamb and Beehive Cheese. Since then, the Challenge and eventually Eat Local Week have grown into statewide events held at just the right time for Utahns to enjoy the best of the harvest season.
It’s catching on, as each year options increase. Area flour mills are buying local, even organic, grain. Everyone knows they can buy locally harvested Redmond salt. Local honey abounds. The rise of the keto diet makes pork fat (lard) okay again—and that’s available, too, from small local producers. Local mushrooms can be found at farmers markets (and in the Uintas—see story on foraging, this issue).
For one week, you can pledge to participate at a level you may find challenging but not taxing. For some, that may mean eating only food grown, raised, produced or caught locally. (You may choose to cut yourself some slack, too, with one or two free exceptions—coffee and olive oil are common choices.)
Or you may commit to purchasing and eating produce from a local farmer, along with some local eggs, meats and cheese.
Another option is to choose to eat one locally sourced meal a day. Or maybe one great feast, with friends, for the week. You decide.
Locally grown food has a smaller carbon footprint. The money you spend is returned to the community. You’ve helped keep a small producer in business. The Eat Local Challenge is a perfect time to start incorporating locally raised food into one’s daily diet—or at very least, a time to acknowledge and appreciate what is produced by our neighbors.
Crist contends that the strength of the local food movement lies in its ability to create connections, to both food and people. “When you buy local food, you form relationships with the people in your community; the community that is formed and strengthened is the most important part. And maybe the most important benefit of eating locally is taste! There’s nothing like buying a fresh tomato in season, still warm from the sun, and more nutritious because it’s not being transported from thousands of miles away.”
— Katherine Pioli and Carmen Taylor
What kind of locavore are you?
Hardcore: Only foods grown, raised and produced within Utah’s boundaries (or a certain reasonable mileage range) are allowed at this level. Some of your favorite foods you’ll have to go without: bananas, Doritos, Sierra Nevada beer, lime margaritas, coffee, safflower oil, balsamic vinegar, kombucha (which is made with sugar and black tea). See “Sources” for a brief list of the abundance available. We promise, you won’t starve!
Easy Does It: Stick to local products for your main food groups. There are numerous options for buying Utah-raised eggs, meat, dairy, vegetables and fruit. Try the farmers markets or make friends with that neighbor who keeps chickens.
DIY: For the newbies, eating local can be a paradigm shift in the kitchen. Go at your own pace, set your own standards. Try to have one meal a day that’s all local.
The 2019 Eat Local Week: Compete in the challenge at your preferred level. Sign up online.
Eat Local events
Kick Off Party @ Pioneer Park, Sat., Sept. 7, 8am – 2pm. Free. Sign up for the Eat Local Challenge!
Tomato Sandwich Party @ Grateful Tomato Garden, 600 E 800 S, Sat., Sept. 7 11am-2pm. Free. You can sign up for the Eat Local Challenge here, too!
Film Screening: Local 30 @ SLC Public Library, 210 E 400 S, Mon., Sept. 9, 6-8pm, Free. This documentary, about two young Oregon farmers completing their own 30-day eat local challenge, follows the couple as the meet their local farmers, fishermen and ranchers.
Harvest Quickle @ Pioneer Park, 350 S 300 W, Tues. Sept. 10, 5-8pm, Free. Learn how to quick pickle fresh local produce.
Taste of the Season @ Salt Lake Culinary Education, 2233 S 300 East, Wed., September 11, 6-9pm, $30. Mingle with local farmers, vendors and chefs. Sample locally made beverages and food. Admission includes two drink tickets.
Visit Eat Local Week’s Calendar of Events for latest updates and additional events.
Visit the Eat Local website
Here, you can:
- Find farmers markets near you
- Sign up for the Eat Local Challenge
- Enter the Recipe Contest
What to eat? Where to shop?
For fruits, vegetables and honey, too, your assured sources (beyond your own garden) are the many farmers markets. See the Urban Food Coalition’s website for a map of area shopping options.
But locovores need not live on produce (and honey) alone! Look for these products as well. Note: This list is inspirational only, not comprehensive. The Utah’s Own website offers many options, but not all products qualify for the Eat Local Challenge so choose carefully.
Bread: Bread Riot, Abigail’s Oven, Vosen’s. Ask your favorite baker, “Where does your flour come from?” Much of Lehi Mills and Central Milling’s flour is locally grown, especially the organic wheat. Eva’s Bakery uses Central Milling, as does Harmons in their in-store bakeries (organic too!).
Eggs: Oakdale (sold at Costco; from North Salt Lake); Clifford Eggs (sold at Liberty Heights Fresh and The Store)
Milk: Most easily purchased raw from Redmond Farms stores or Utah Natural Meat & Milk. (Winder Dairy doesn’t count as truly local but it is “regional.”)
Milk products: Cheese—Beehive, Heber Valley, Rockhill Creamery, Mesa Farms. Yogurt: Milk Honey, Drake Goat Dairy
Meat: lamb, pork, chicken, beef and more at the Downtown, Liberty Park and Park City markets; Harmons carries some local meat (ask at the meat counter); Liberty Heights sells Canyon Meadows and others; Beltex is best source for wide variety (alert: high prices…but top quality)
Spices & condiments: Real Salt, Solstice Spices, Firebird, Devil’s Club, Salsa Del Diablo, Slide Ridge honey wine vinegar. Lard can be used in place of oil or butter in many recipes (from Clifford Farms or Beltex—or save the drippings when you cook bacon)
Misc.: Squatters Bumper Crop beer, many Hive Winery offerings; mint tea (mint is everywhere now!), water kefir from Mamachari