Take the Local Challenge

photo credit: Daniel Orr
This is a personal challenge, much like training to reach any other specific desired outcome. NCGA suggests several approaches to the Challenge: 1) Make 4 meals out of 5 with local foods; 2) Make 5 meals a week with local foods; 3) Set your own local food goal, such as: purchase only local salad fixings, and make a local salad every day. There’s a poll at the Eat Local, America! website and so far, most people (64%) are choosing the flexible option #3. There are others, like Bloomingfoods staff member Katie Zukof (who also works for the Local Growers Guild) who say they eat almost 80% local throughout the whole year. Katie will be blogging for the ELA Challenge, telling you how she does that. (By the way, she saves a lot in food dollars, too!)

“Eating is a very personal act, in addition to being a way to build community,” says Ellen Michel, another Bloomingfoods participant in the Challenge. “We want the ELA Challenge to be very inclusive and fun, so this year we’ve replaced sign-up sheets with donated dollar challenge forms, available from our cashiers. Fill out a form for display in our stores, and let the world know what you are doing to support a more local food economy. You might even fill out a new form each time you shop, making note of your Eat Local habits: going to the farmers market, joining a CSA, or supporting restaurants that use local ingredients.

Following the Eat Local, America! Challenge is not so much about doing everything ‘right’ (and yes, you can still drink coffee, eat olives, and use salt and pepper) -- rather, it’s about discovering your own local options and building more of those into your diet, one radish, grass-fed burger, or batch of watercress at a time.”

You'll find Challenge resources in the Bloomingfoods stores. Michel and Zukof will be blogging at the Eat Local America website for Bloomingfoods and the Local Growers Guild. There’s a great recipe there for the Argentinean dish Garden Chimichurri, which uses parsley, oregano, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno peppers, and scallions – ingredients you might find from local sources (or perhaps you grow your own). Word has it that Chimichurri is the new pesto!

We invite you to send in your favorite recipes using local ingredients. E-mail us at: eatlocal [at] bloomingfoods [dot] coop.

The Eat Local America website is designed to build awareness of local food momentum all across the country: it’s a theme with many regional variations. The site is also a great resource if you are traveling this summer, and want to locate a co-op or farmers’ market along your route.

On Sunday, July 26, Bloomingfoods will host a pitch-in local dinner Bryan Park, during a 6:30 - 8 pm concert with Jason Fickel and his band, as part of the Bloomington Parks and Recreation summer concert series. Dinner prep will begin at 5:30 pm at the Henderson Shelter. Please bring a local dish to share, dishware, and a blanket for the lawn. It’ll be a great time to exchange local foods stories!

The pledge portion of the ELA Challenge will end on Sunday August 23, with another pitch-in local dinner at the Henderson Shelter in Bryan Park, beginning at 5:30 pm. Krista Detor will perform that night, as part of the Bloomington Parks and Recreation Summer Concert Series, again sponsored by Bloomingfoods. Bring a dish with local ingredients to share, dishware, and a blanket, to enjoy an end-of-summer evening. At this community dinner, the co-op will acknowledge the many ways our customers have made commitments to the ELA challenge, and invite everyone to keep going up local through our annual meeting, on October 8th.

“The landscape has changed since our first ELA Challenge,” says Zukof. “We’ve become aware of many more people wanting to rethink their habits in order to support local food providers. The ELA Challenge is one very tangible way you can test your own ability with this issue, learning more – and eating better – as you go. Log onto EatLocalAmerica.coop, stop in at Bloomingfoods, and see just how local YOU can go.”

To learn about the many local growers in our regions, pick up the new issue of the Local Growers Guide, available free of charge at all three Bloomingfoods stores, the Bloomington Community Farmers Market, and numerous locations in town. You can meet many of our local food providers at the local markets: the Saturday morning markets at Showers Plaza (City Hall) on Morton Street, and at Bloomingfoods East; the Tuesday Market (from 4-7 pm) at Bloomingfoods Near West Side, at Sixth and Madison; and the Wednesday morning market at Bloomingfoods East.