Sunday, September 9, 2007

September: Eat Local Month

September is the month we're all struggling to settle our schedules and now the Eat Local Challenge wants us to do more: change our eating habits. Perhaps, though, our awareness of new beginnings is an ideal time to begin to consider the impact of our food on our lives and us on our food. The winter is fast approaching and it can become easy here in Wisconsin to discover that the fresh food shrinks to nothing; the farmer's market begins to teem with cheeses, breads and crafts instead of the usual bounteous produce, flowers, herbs and so forth. I tend to maintain my same eating habits (and rotation of easy meals) and just replace local produce with whatever is at the grocery store. Thus eating locally has a great appeal. On the other hand this project is a major time commitment -- I haven't time to make a grocery list, much less one that considers only stuff from within a "local" area. I do, however, think that this is a very worthwhile trend that deserves a great deal of attention. In fact, here's 10 Reasons to Eat Local.

While I'm moderating movements that are all-or-nothing (you can see my post on "Environmentalism vs. Consumptionism vs. Me" for more details), I also want to continue living my life with more awareness about how I impact (negatively) the world around me. In short, any change that we do for the better furthers us along to making those decisions that propel us to further change. When I started dating Nate, I never thought about my own consumption of meat, but now think about the food chain each time I decide to cook or order food; while I still eat meat, I eat much less. I haven't actually written about vegetarianism and my thoughts on why I eat less meat so I'll make that post one of this month's blogging.

I wonder what overall effect this movement has on the food supply if it becomes more dispersed. While "buy local" movements are crucial to developing communities, we live in such a globalized economy (and have destroyed many local communities abroad) that we need to consider both sides of the equation: to what extent will we decimate communities whose local industries we've eliminated and how can we transition to a more primarily local environment while participating (responsibly) in a global climate? I don't think a month of thinking about eating locally will answer that question!


  • Focus on adding some local produce to my meals
  • Draft meals that take advantage of multiple combinations so there's less waste (Nate & I both tend to overcook for just us and then decide we've eaten that soup for 3 days and the last bowl can go down the drain)
  • Blog about food issues (including that promised vegetarian post!)
  • Make the two-three meals we're having company from local ingredients.
So, look here for my musings, discoveries and slow steps towards incorporating locally grown food into a life that is overfilled with my second year of graduate school!

Speaking of graduate school, here's my crazy schedule: taking two English graduate classes (Medieval and Early Modern -- both revolving around politics and religion), an undergraduate art history course (covering exactly what I want to do with my career!) and teaching four sections of English 162: Shakespeare (which is one section more than the usual load). I designed the Shakespeare site myself and while it needs a ton of work, I'm pleased with the general architecture that I've established.

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