Thursday, July 17, 2008

100 Foot Diet Challenge Update

I've challenged myself to eat as much local food as possible this summer (and I hope I'll be able to continue into the winter). My food choices tend to go in this order, from best to worst:

Food from the garden, dumpstered, locally grown organic or chemical free, locally grown conventional, organic non-local, and then conventional non-local. Basically, I would rather eat pesticides than food that took a lot of fossil fuel to transport, but I'd much rather eat food that didn't use pesticides OR a lot of fossil fuel.

It can be very challenging to eat this way, and I don't always succeed. Money is definitely a concern for me, and I cannot afford to buy lots of food from the coop. That's why I try to make as much as I can from scratch (bread, yogurt, cheese, special treats, etc.) But making everything from scratch is time consuming--that's the biggest obstacle I hear from friends when I suggest taking this route. I'm still learning time saving techniques, like making no-knead bread, but I do work full time and sometimes I just don't have the energy.

That's when I find myself tempted to eat out. This is still a major challenge for me: I love food, and I love eating out (probably because I HATE cleaning). I spend more money on eating out than any other activity, so naturally this is an area I want to work on. I find that when I'm too strict about my eating habits, I burn out and find myself a Late Nite Burger or another local restaurant. Instead, I'm trying to get in the habit of keeping a stash of frozen foods from Trader Joe's on hand. It's not ideal, but at least it's a cheaper way to cheat.

So that's the challenge. Here's one of my successes! I haven't been able to glean whole meals from our garden, but I've come pretty close. Often I just have to add some tempeh or dumpstered meat and a grain to complete a filling meal. We've had a steady supply of greens. Did you know that collards have more calcium than milk by weight, and they are high in protein, vitamin C, and many other vitamins? Also a good source of fiber! We've also had beets in the last week, and some carrots and peas as well. Soon we will be making a LOT of salsa verde, hopefully to can. My tomatillo plants are enormous and bursting with fruit.

As a post-script, I am hoping to have enough surplus from the garden to donate some to the local food bank. They have a great program called "plant a row for the hungry" that encourages home gardeners to donate produce to improve the nutrition of people forced to get their food from the food bank. If you're in Santa Fe and you have a garden surplus, consider donating it as well!

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