The Eat Local Challenge

Posted on 7th September 2007 by Ryan Somma in science holidays - Tags:

Whoops! I’m a week behind on this one, but apparently September is Eat Local Month, an effort to get people to think about where their food comes from by eating food produced within 100 miles of where you live.

Why eat local? See 10 Reasons to Eat Local Food. “Local” is better than “Organic.”

Waitaminute! No, I’m wrong. The Eat Local Challenge is scheduled for October 3rd. That’s a relief, and it’s only a single day, and this one gives us a 150 mile radius. That’s nowhere near as daunting as foraging in my backyard for grubs for a month.

Hold on… No, the Eat Local Challenge is in May, the Whole Month of May. So that’s two months and a day every year I’ve got to try and eat food produced within 100-150 miles of Elizabeth City, North Carolina??? Sure we’ve got a good deal of farm produce, but eating local seafood here means adding to our problem of collapsing fish stocks. Ever feel damned if you do, damned if you don’t?

I’m not trying to be obtuse here. I think this is an awesome idea, but it has two really big problems:

  1. It’s disorganized. Pick a date, stick with it, and get corporate sponsorship. Get all the treehugger sites on board.
  2. It’s too long, which violates the “people are lazy” truism. I’m lazy and I’m intimidated by a month of eating locally. This should be a one-week challenge so it doesn’t scare away those of us who are ecologically mindful, but not devotees to the cause.
  3. The goal here is to promote a meme. Get people planting gardens in their back yards, fruit trees, stopping in at the farmer’s market, etc. Push Eat Local resources and “how to” guides more than anything.

“I”m a lazy lazy man,” to quote Krusty the Clown from The Simpsons, like most people, and I don’t have time for 24/7 environmentalism. My fellow dirt-worshiping treehuggers are trying to say that we should be mindful of where our food comes from all the time, and that’s great, but package this message consistently, make it inclusive to the point that people who aren’t taking part in the challenge will want to follow it and maybe take an electronic brochure, and dumb it down enough to make everyone care.

Earthday everyday. : )

Right before posting this, I found the Eat Really Local Challenge, 100 yards. Not commenting on that with a 1024-foot pole.


  1. I would love to plant a vegetable garden, but I don’t trust myself to get it to grow.

    Plus, I’d probably let the food rot anyway. I’m *terrible* with fresh veggies from the produce section. D’oh! I have such big plans when I buy the stuff, and then the next thing I know, I’m pulling this rotted soft mass of crap out of my refrigerator.

    Comment by Carolyn — September 8, 2007 @ 11:29 am

  2. Almost every homeowner in Italy could fulfill the 100-yard challenge. At the home where we stayed last week in Tuscany, there were ripe pear, fig, quince, blackberry, walnut, and apple trees. Mitch made an awesome fruit tart for everyone. There were also Sangiovese grapevines, roaming chickens, and we saw at least one small wild boar foraging on the side of the road leading to the house. At my parents’ house in Naples, the yard had not grass, but fig, clementine orange, apple, and cherry trees, as well as a grape arbor. I think the get-rid-of-grass meme is the one that really needs to spread. Lawns are so water wasteful, work-intensive, chemically dependent, and unproductive!

    Carolyn, I could probably help you avoid the rotting food problem if you really want to change that habit. I used to make lots of experiments in my fridge before I figured out how to avoid it. Email me at

    Comment by Kristina — September 8, 2007 @ 10:12 pm

  3. I run something of a Survival of the Fittest garden myself. If a plant can survive my neglect, it’s welcome to stay in the garden.

    These comments remind me, it’s time to throw the no-longer-fresh fruit out again. : )

    Comment by ideonexus — September 9, 2007 @ 6:38 pm

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