The Locavore Challenge

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Many years ago, long before anyone ever heard the word "locavore," and long before Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a friend issued at challenge to a group of us: Try for one week to fill your plate only with things that have been grown within a 50-mile radius of your home.

I had a blast trying to find things produced close to my southern California home. The experience was kind of like a scavenger hunt for grownups. I chose olive oil from a nearby wine producing region, drank milk and ate cheese from a dairy a few miles away, consumed salads made from ingredients in my own backyard, ate apples from my tree, made orange juice from a friend's grove, picked fennel from the surrounding hills for tea, ate red snapper caught just off the coast, and so on. Admittedly, my diet had to be altered from its normal course, but all in all, I ate well, often, and happily, and the exhilaration produced by figuring out what I could scavenge locally and where my foods came from made for an exciting adventure. It made me ask questions about everything and sent me delving far more thoroughly into the origins of my favorite foods.

Of course, there are all sorts of things in our diets that are not native to any of us that we take for granted. Coffee. Tea. Sugar. Ground pepper. The list goes on. It's interesting when you start to really do this, you come to realize how much we rely on things that aren't locally sourced.

And I admit that such a challenge is probably far easier to meet if you live in Southern California, with its year-round growing season, than it would be say, in Arizona or Montana. And it's certainly easier for a single woman or a committed couple to succeed than it might be for a family with two picky kids to feed! But if you've got kids, consider the educational possibilities. Heck, consider the educational possibilities for yourself!

Are you up for the challenge? Try it for week and see how you do. Or, if that sounds too daunting, perhaps you'd be willing to try just one locally sourced meal a day. Or maybe you'd consider yourself resourceful if you could find just one item at each meal that was local. One thing I know for sure: You'll probably have a lot of fun trying and you'll learn a lot about where foods that you take for granted each and every day come from.

We'd love to hear about your experience!