About a week ago, I concluded an attempted two week adventure at eating only local produce. Many of you are thinking “You should have been doing that already…”, and I do, as much as I can. Unfortunately, though, I often succumb to the tempting case of raspberries… that are being sold in January. I know they were shipped upwards of a thousand miles before arriving at the Safeway down the street, but they just look so tasty!
Lucky for me, eating locally in May wasn’t too much of a challenge, as some of my favorite produce is finally coming into season. I thought accessibility and availability of local produce would be my biggest challenge during this project, but I quickly found out why Eugene has the reputation it does. That is, if you are not a college student working full time with a food blog. Then you can’t afford it. Sorry. I know, I was bummed, too.
Are you familiar with CSAs, or Community Supported Agriculture? Unfortunately, the CSAs in Eugene and Springfield would require more than what was left of my budget, as you pay a large deposit up front for a few months worth of produce delivered weekly, so I didn’t have a chance to participate in one. Even so, I really enjoyed learning more about CSAs in Eugene and came to appreciate the culture surrounding local and organic food. The Willamette Farm and Food Coalition’s website lists more than twenty CSAs in Lane County with information about the products they offer, when they are offered, and how to contact the vendors.
Photo of Winter Green Farms, which offers a great CSA, outside Eugene
I found shopping at Sundance Natural Foods to be very easy and convenient, as they have late hours and a wide selection. The owner of the store also happens to be Boyfriend’s landlord. Small world here in Eugene!
It turned out that accessibility would be the least of my problems during this project, and I attribute that to Eugene culture. Many, if not most, other cities do not have nearly as large a market for local foods. I grew up in the Portland area, which also provides a wide variety of places to shop for local food and was even named by The Huffington Post as one of the ten best cities for local food.
My biggest constraint turned out to be my budget, which I had originally thought I was over-compensating for. Being a college student with a part time job as a research assistant, there is not any room for flexibility in my spending. Ultimately, I was able to last a little over a week rather than the intended two weeks. This was partly a fault of my own, as during the first few days I spent a great deal of my budget on produce, grossly over-estimating how much of it my boyfriend and I would actually eat. Although we eat our fair share of produce, after three days I ended up having to throw away a few tomatoes, half of a pineapple, a pepper, and half of a bag of green beans because we had not eaten them in time.
During this time, though, I made a big batch of salsa, a stir fry similar to my sweet hot chili stir fry, and a few other goodies.
Although my project didn’t turn out to be sustainable, I hope to shop locally as much as I can in the future. I learned so much about the good it does for the environment, local economy, and my body that a few extra dollars will definitely be worth it! I’m so lucky to live in a city like Eugene.
Do any of you eat only local produce? If so, do you have any tips for people with a tighter budget such as myself? Why do you think eating locally is important?