Get dirty, have fun and grow more food with great gardening tips from real-life gardeners.
There is a challenge going on in October that you should know about. It is the 10-Day Local Food Challenge that is being kicked off by Vicki Robin, author of Blessing the Hands That Feed Us. The challenge is to choose a block of 10 days in October 2014 and commit to only eating food grown within a 100 mile radius of your home. To sweeten the deal, you are allowed 10 exotics, which are foods you want but can’t find locally. The exotics might include baking ingredients or the coffee you can’t seem to live without.
In her book Robin relates her experiences eating only food grown within a 10-mile radius of her home for 30 days. She allowed herself 4 exotics: olive oil, lemons and limes, salt plus a few Indian spices, and caffeine. If you are serious about local food, and even if you are just curious about how someone could do that, you will enjoy her book. My book, Grow a Sustainable Diet, gets into planning to grow a substantial part of your diet, including the cover crops to feed back the soil. It also stresses the need to build community systems. What you don’t grow yourself you should buy from local growers who have good soil building practices.
More than anything this challenge is an experiment in mindfulness. It gets you thinking about all aspects of what you eat. We are all responsible for how the earth is used to produce the food we consume. If you want the earth to be used in good ways, choose to eat food produced that way. For me, this seems like a fun, easy project, but that’s because I have experienced Homegrown Fridays when I consume only what I’ve grown during the Fridays in Lent. I have already thought through what is important to me and what I can live without. I also grow staple crops and have written an article for Mother Earth News about that. My homegrown cornmeal cooked into a hot cereal topped with honey will be breakfast each day of my challenge. Learn more about me accepting the 10-Day Challenge at Homeplace Earth.
If you already have a garden, this is a good exercise to see how much it contributes to your overall diet. I know that by October the season is over for many gardens, but it doesn’t have to be. Next year you could plan to have more to eat through the winter by harvesting from low tunnels or cold frames. You could also preserve more for eating all year or grow crops that can be stored without much fuss, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, onions, garlic, peanuts, and grains. Many farmers markets now extend through the winter and some of the farmers have on-farm stores. If you have a CSA membership, taking the challenge will highlight what more is needed to complete your diet. If you enjoy the convenience of the grocery store, inquire about having your neighborhood grocery carry food produced in the neighborhood or at least within 100 miles or so.
While you are considering the origins of your food, besides the earth it is grown in, consider the workers who plant, tend, and harvest the food you eat. Are their working conditions acceptable to you? Besides being responsible for how the earth is used, we are responsible for the health and welfare of the workers who produce the food we choose to eat. If you haven’t thought about these issues before, your 10-Day Challenge might be to become aware of the origins of your food and begin to align your choices with the conditions for the earth and for the workers that you deem acceptable. For those ready to jump into the 10-Day Local Food Challenge, visit the website to sign in and complete the survey. Choose your 10 days and your 10 exotics and begin the adventure! Tell them Cindy sent you.
Learn more about Cindy Conner and what she’s up to at www.HomeplaceEarth.wordpress.com.
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