Eating locally-grown food is appropriately called a challenge because it’s admittedly more difficult to do than I anticipated. For one, I’m a picky eater with limited time to grocery shop and prepare food. Fortunately I enjoy fruits and most vegetables, both of which are easily found in the “locally-grown” category. What’s not easily found around me are sources of protein and grains. In fact rice, a local staple isn’t even grown here in Hawaii.
Another reason why this challenge has been challenging is because I didn’t do my homework on where I can find the local version of foods I eat. Take chicken for example. I just assumed Whole Foods or the local farmers’ market would have local chicken available. Well they don’t. Rumor has it that, it is possible to buy locally raised chicken but I never took the time to find out where to buy it, when the vendor is open, how far would I have to drive to pick it up, etc. Same goes for eggs.
I also didn’t psychologically prepare to give up foods that simply might not be available to me. This is a big one because the idea of food restriction doesn’t come easily to me. I’ve rarely felt the need to restrict anything I enjoy eating. (My exception was when I couldn’t eat wheat for a few month because I was having mild reactions to it. It was miserable.) Depending on your relationship with food, this aspect of the eat local challenge may not be an issue.
My last and biggest obstacle with this challenge is I failed to get my fiance on board. He’s easy going enough that if I came home with a bag full of locally grown produce (which I did last Sunday) he’ll eat it and won’t ask about the Tater Tots. But I need more support than that. It’s important that he helps me stay on track when that loaf of french bread from California is saying “wouldn’t I taste good with Nutella?” or when I’m too tired to cook, the frozen pizza all of a sudden looks like a healthy option if I bought the vegetarian one. It didn’t take much to convince my fiance that this challenge would be good for us. But it’ll take much more effort convincing him to care enough to take action with me.
Needless to say, my performance with this eat locally-grown food challenge isn’t going so well. But I’m still committed to it for the long haul, especially since I’ll be feeding an entire family one day. I want to make sure our healthy eating habits start now.
On the flip side, there’s limited (if any) evidence to show that an imported tomato (or grape, or zucchini) is more nutritious than one grown within a 100 mile radius from your home, however, economically it’s better to keep those dollars within the community. Purchasing locally grown food also means there’s less need for preservatives and genetically modified organisms designed to ripen on route to your grocery store. Local food is also less likely to be produced from large factories containing lots of processed ingredients, refined sugars, sodium, and trans fats. So in that sense eating locally produced food is healthier.
So I have lots of homework: 1. Find out what’s actually available around me; 2. Figure out the accessibility of these vendors; 3.Assess how willing I am to modify my lifestyle; 4. Propagate pro local food information into my fiance’s head!
A friend once told me “I’ll only eat what I feel comfortable killing.” Under this parameter, the only meat she ate was fish. Sharing her sentiment for respecting the food we consume, there’s something encouraging and “feel good” about eating food purchased directly from the farmer who grew it or better yet the food we’ve grown ourselves. Anything to encourage me and others to eat more fresh produce is a plus regardless of whether the jury is still out about if it’s actually healthier apple for apple.