Jen at the weblog life begins at 30, along with locavores, has organized an "Eat Local" challenge for August. I'm a little late for full participation -- webloggers were supposed to post their own personal goal by July 31. But the participants are up to something special. Many plan to eat food from within 100 miles of home. You are allowed to make some exceptions (for example, spices, or the freezer full of fish that your dad mailed you from Alaska). But some folks are trying to make no exceptions at all. Jen linked to cookiecrumb's adventures in making salt from the nearby ocean.
Life is more colorful eating local, and it is usually good environmentalism. There is something spiritually moving about knowing the farmer who produces your family's food, and the soil it comes from, and sometimes picking it with your own hand. There is something appealing about a dirty crooked carrot in a world full of obedient clean conical supercarrots.
My eat local principles do have to be non-doctrinaire. Attractive fresh fruits and vegetables would be less affordable, and less frequently available, if one ate strictly locally. Even eating regionally, one gets a nice long summer season of fresh corn on the cob around here by drawing from the length of the Atlantic seaboard, eating first from the Carolinas and last from Massachusetts. Is there anything less worthy about a North Carolina farmer that I should shun his or her produce? Eating North Carolina corn on the cob is still very different from letting the corn go to Doritos or the high-fructose corn syrup plant. And, in the bigger scheme of things, why not let a Guatemalan farmer feed her family by selling yours some fresh vegetables in January? It's a matter of degree. My goals for August are to eat: much more local food, much more food in season, more diverse and interesting fruits and vegetables, to add two new local food recipes to my small toolbox that are good enough to serve guests, and to be better informed about the environmental decisions made growing our family's food.
Here's a photograph of the table at Waltham Fields Community Farm from which much of our family's food will come this month. The farm is also the source of the photograph in the title banner for U.S. Food Policy -- I'll try to change that title photograph with the seasons.