Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Do I smell a challenge?

I'm always up for a challenge. Frankly, I tend to jump right in if I am dared to do so. Maybe it's the thrill of the unknown. Or, the idea that I don't have time to think about the consequences of the action I am about to undertake. It takes me back to my college days when I constantly jumped from literal and metaphorical cliffs not realizing what lived and breathed beneath the murky waters.

Such is the situation I now find myself in. No, I'm not jumping off any cliffs, but I feel like it. Today begins the month long 2012 Eat Local Challenge. Everyone in North Central Florida is challenged to eat local, seasonal foods every day for the month of May. I've committed myself and my family to this challenge. On the surface, it sounds pretty simple. Hogtownhomegrown.com, a website that promotes eating local, fresh food, has been challenging folks in our area for several years. The reasoning is simple: Not only is local food tasty, the money spent locally helps our local economy and local food travels fewer miles to the plate reducing our carbon footprint.

One of the reasons my husband and I decided to move downtown a month ago from our suburban digs was just that - reducing our carbon footprint and taking a more active part in our community at large. Both alum of UF, we love Gainesville. It's where we met and fell in love. It's where we chose to move back to with our son. We wanted to live more simply. We wanted to walk to work, or ride the bus. We wanted to ride our bikes to market. It's a slow process, but we're doing it one step at a time. I think eating locally this month (at least one item every meal) is a perfect way to punctuate our move to simplicity.

So far today, I've eaten orange blossom honey from Land of Flowers in Alachua at breakfast, organic almonds and dried cherries as a noon day snack from Citizens Co-Op and for dinner, I have brown rice from the Co-Op, along with fresh peppers, carrots and other veggies I bought at the Farmer's Market for a stir fry.

I can't guarantee every meal will be all Gainesville all the time, but my family's going to be more cognizant of where our food is from. Now, it's time to hold my breath and jump into the abyss.