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Local Food Challenge Announcement

  • Subject: [cg] Local Food Challenge Announcement
  • From: "Sharon Gordon" gordonse@one.net
  • Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2003 15:57:22 -0400
  • Importance: Normal

Want to find out how much of the food you eat is fresh, local, and harvested
at juicy ripeness or how much is travel weary from its trek across the
continent or around the earth?  If so join the
*Local Food Challenge*
beginning Friday September 12, 2003 to Thursday September 18, 2003.

***The Challenge***
The Challenge is to discover how much food is grown near by, how much from
your region and how much from far away. This week in September can be one of
local abundance in most of the northern hemisphere with a full array of late
summer and early foods available. (In the southern hemisphere, there is
usually a good selection of early spring food.)  Particularly for the
northern hemisphere, this provides a good look at whether you can eat a
complete well balanced diet from local foods, or if not where the holes are
in your local food security.  In addition to knowledge gained, participants
get a chance to enjoy local foods at their peak of flavor.

***Why is Local Food Important?***
The closer the food grows to the diner, the fresher, riper and tastier it is
likely to be.  When food is grown nearby, less fossil fuel(gasoline) is used
to deliver it resulting in less pollution.  In general local food helps the
local economy through an increased number of local jobs and preservation of
green space.  Other advantages may include: easier to find out how
organically it was grown, easier to find out if farm workers are treated
well and paid a living wage, increases local food security, fresher taste,
greater nutritional content, preserves local food specialties, access to
tastier heirloom varieties, preserve genetic diversity.

***To Participate***
Check to see where the foods that you eat this week are grown.  Then measure
the amounts of each.  We suggest that you weigh the foods since weight has a
big effect on the amount of fuel used when foods are transported.  But if
you do not have scales, please feel free to measure in cups or by metric
volume.  As long as you stick with one measurement method, you will be able
to evaluate your information.

We request that you not measure any added tap/well water which you add to
your food, but if you use bottled water, please measure that.  So for
instance if you make soup, weigh the dry beans, onions, tomatoes, carrots,
peppers, and spices, but not the water you use to cook them in.

Then list the food and amount in one of the categories below.  The
categories represent both degrees of freshness and amount of energy used for
transporting the food.  For this challenge we have tried to choose
categories that represent significant differences in what is involved to get
the food to the diner. (If you have suggestions about the categories, please
send comments to gordonse@one.net with a heading of Local Food Categories or
post a message to the email list at LocalFoodCafe@yahoogroups.com .)  Here
is a list of the categories and some of the reasoning behind the category.
Each category is likely to have a differing balance with regard to the
reasons under the heading above "Why is Local Food Important?", but we are
listing only a few of the aspects involved.

Category--Reasoning for Category

Homegrown Fresh (Food you(family) grew yourself.  May include food grown at
earlier time which hasn't been processed beyond harvesting, washing, and
storing.  Examples of food grown at an earlier time and stored are potatoes,
carrots in sand, cabbages, apples, winter squash)--Fresh, maximum nutrients,
generally the least nonrenewable energy to have this food.  Maximum
possibilities for avoiding pollution of all sorts.  Note: you may choose to
eat this food fresh or cooked and still consider it in this category.

Homegrown Preserved (Dried, Canned, Frozen, Pickled, Fermented)--More energy
used.  May or may not result in need for recycling or waste removal.

Grown  within SquareMile--A 15 to 20 minute walk for most people.  This is
an amount of walking that many people are willing to do on a regular basis.
(See SquareMileLiving-subscribe@yahoogroups.com for more details on
calculating your SquareMile.)

Grown within 3 miles-- An hour walk for most people.  An easy bike ride in
terms of distance.  Likely within public transportation if the area has
public transportation. People are less willing to walk this on a regular
basis, but it's quite doable for most if there in some sort of
transportation disruption.

Grown within 50 miles--This is drivable in an hour in most places.  It's
likely been picked within 24 hours of purchase.  It is possible to get this
food by bicycle in most places if desired or necessary.

Grown within 250 miles--This is half a day on a truck.  It's likely to be at
least one to two days old by the time of arrival.

Grown within 500 miles--A whole day on a truck.  Lots of fossil fuel used,
but still could be fairly fresh.

Grown within 1500 miles--Food is probably at least 3 to 5 days old.  Food
has come from half a continent away.

Grown within 3000 miles--Food is at least a week old and from across the

Over 3000 miles--Food is probably 1 to 2 weeks old, or lots of fossil fuel
was used to fly it somewhere. Food may have come from across a continent or
the sea.

***Sara's Food Example***

Homegrown Fresh: (18.35 pounds)
Tomatoes 3 pounds
Summer Squash 1 pound
Onions 1.5 pounds
Cucumbers 2 pounds
Peppers 1 pound
Green beans 1 pound
Turnip Greens 1.5 pounds
Plums 2 pounds
Grapes 2 pounds
Potatoes 4 pounds
Sunflower seeds .25 pounds
Basil .10 pound

Homegrown Preserved (2 pounds)
Dry beans 2 pounds

Grown within SquareMile (0 pounds)

Grown within 3 miles (1.5 pounds)
Fish .5 pound
Eggs 1 pound

Grown within 50 miles (0 pounds)

Grown within 250 miles (0 pounds)

Grown within 500 miles: (4 pounds)
Brown Rice 1 pound
White Flour 1.5 pounds
Wheat Flour .5 pounds
Peanut butter 1 pound

Grown within 1500 miles (.5 pounds)
Vinegar .5 pound

Grown within 3000 miles (0 pounds)

Over 3000 miles (.90 pound)
Tea leaves .20 pound
Assorted spices .20 pound
Olive oil .5 pound

***To Calculate Your Percentages for the week***
1. Add up the total number of pounds of food you ate for the week.  If you
used a digital scale this is straightforward.  If you weighed in ounces,
remember that there are 16 ounces to a pound.  If you used cups(and
tablespoons for partial cups--convert to cups) or metric volume add that.

2) Then for each category, make a fraction of
number of pounds(cups) in category/total pounds(cups)

3) Then divide and calculate percentage.  Most computers have a calculator
program under Start/Programs/Accessories/Calculator.

***An Example from Sara's week:***
Total: 26.95 pounds

Category/Fraction/Percentage(rounded (they total 101% due to rounding
Homegrown Fresh: 18.35 pounds/26.95 pounds 68%

Homegrown Preserved 2 pounds/26.95 pounds   7%

Grown within SquareMile 0 pounds/26.95 pounds 0%

Grown within 3 miles 1.5 pounds/26.95 pounds  6%

Grown within 50 miles 0 pounds/26.95 pounds 0%

Grown within 250 miles 0 pounds/26.95 pounds 0%

Grown within 500 miles: 4 pounds/26.95 pounds 15%

Grown within 1500 miles .5 pounds/26.95 pounds 2%

Grown within 3000 miles 0 pounds/26.95 pounds 0%

Over 3000 miles .90 pound/26.95 pounds  3%

***While participating or once you have your percentages***
Post discussion and/or percentages to the list you saw this challenge on
(Challenge may be posted to any appropriate lists--Food, Garden,
Agriculture, Food Security, Simplicity, Frugality, Recipes, Homestead, Local
Living, etc.) and to the LocalFoodCafe list which is sponsoring this
challenge ( LocalFoodCafe-subscribe@yahoogroups.com )

***Some aspects to consider while doing the challenge:***
Please feel free to discuss any of these on the lists if you like.
1) How much of your food is grown within walking distance (3 miles or less)?
Sara's doing quite well for her example week with 81%.

2) Are there any important food categories where most of the food comes from
far away?
In Sara's case her grains come from far away.

3) If you altered your shopping to get as much local as possible, how did
this affect what you ate or the cost?  Did you like the taste of any of the
items more(less) than usual?

4) What items that came from more than 3 miles away could be grown within
the 3 miles? Within 50 miles?

5) Did you discover any local fresh or value added foods or markets that you
hadn't tried before?

6) How much of your food did you eat fresh (without cooking)? Note: for the
sake of the functioning of your intestines, it's not wise to change this
from what you usually eat too much at one time.

7) If you have a nutrition program, did the weeks food meet your overall
nutritional needs?  If anyone could run the numbers on Sara's week and send
them to gordonse@one.net, that would be helpful.  My guess is that her
nutrient levels are probably good for most things, though I think her
calcium levels might be low.

***An email list for local food***
If you'd like to discuss local food topics as well as this challenge with a
group focused on this topic, join the LocalFoodCafe group.

Info about the list:
LocalFoodCafe is for people who want to increase the percentage of local
food that they eat.  It's also for people who want to help increase the
amount and types of food which are available locally. Related goals are to
improve taste of available food, health, sustainability, access to seasonal
food, ecology, food security, local economics, and to preserve regional ways
of eating.

We are also interested in discovering the degree to which we and our area
can eat locally at the current time as well as the potential for increasing
the levels in the future.  Occasionally we will sponsor Eating Local Food

Some ways we might encourage the increased access to Local Food are: Home
Gardens, Community Gardens, Allotments, Farmer's Markets, CSAs, Restaurant
Gardens, Wildfoods, Biointensive Gardening, Permaculture, Edible
Landscaping, Small Local Farms, Square Mile Living, Four Season Harvest
techniques, SlowFood, Local Value-added food processing, Root Cellars and
Home Preserving, and Local/Regional Cookbooks.

Bon (local) Appetit!


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