Eat Local Challenge: Can You Do It?

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The Eat Local Challenge began last Friday and continues through Sunday. The challenge is to eat more of your daily food from local sources. Can you do it? QUESTION: WHAT EXACTLY IS THE EAT LOCAL CHALLENGE? The Eat Local Challenge began in California in 2005 to promote the consumption of locally produced foods. It was originally a 30 day challenge to eat 100 percent of your food produced within 150 miles of your home and has now spread throughout the country in many cities and states. The Wisconsin challenge is 10 days and recommends eating at least 10 percent of your food produced within 150 miles of your home, or from Wisconsin. QUESTION: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF EATING LOCALLY? There are many benefits that range from being good for the environment to being better for us: EAT LOCAL BENEFITS: Environmental Economic Taste Nutrition Environment – according to the Worldwatch Institute, food in U.S. travels 1,500-2,500 miles from farm to table and 25 percent farther than 20 years ago. Eating locally reduces non-renewable energy resources wasted in transportation and cuts down on pollution. Economy – helps local economy and family farms since money stays in the community. A dollar spent locally usually generates twice as much income for the local economy. Taste – locally grown food is fresher, usually sold within 24 hours of picking. Locally grown foods are allowed to ripen on the vine when the flavor is at its peak. Nutrition – food that is allowed to ripen on the vine produces greater nutrients and food that is consumed shortly after picking retains more nutrients QUESTION: HOW MUCH BETTER NUTRITIONALLY SPEAKING IS IT TO EAT LOCALLY GROWN FOODS? Since one of the main reasons we eat food is to obtain nutrients, it is important to eat foods that will provide the greatest nutrition to maximize brain and body chemistry, promote health and prevent disease. Let’s review the health benefits of local foods: LOCAL FOODS: Fewer pesticides Higher vitamins and minerals Higher antioxidants and phytochemicals Contain glyconutrients Vine ripened tomatoes are higher in vitamin C Vine ripened strawberries are higher in antioxidants Local spinach is higher in vitamin C and has more iron Local milk is higher in omega-3 fat and B vitamins Glyconutrients help cell to cell communication and boost the immune system and are only produced in vine-ripened foods QUESTION: HOW CAN WE EAT LOCAL? There are many ways to eat local foods and obtain the nutritional benefits. For example: plant a garden, visit farmers markets, visit food co-ops, visit local stores and local restaurants. Local growers: Jeff Leen Farms, Uplands Cheese, Kays HomeFarm, Barthels Fruit, Growing Power. Local stores: Slow Pokes Local Foods, Outpost Natural Foods, Beans and Barley, Good Harvest Restaurants: Roots, Meritage, Hi Fi Café, Gilbert’s