Are you up to the challenge?

Bianca Greeff, Graduate Assistant

The average American meal travels about 1,500 miles from farm to plate. Food is typically transported by planes, trucks, or ships; all of which consume energy and often emit pollution that impacts air quality. Eating locally, or eating products produced within 250 miles of your plate, can reduce the fossil fuel consumed in the transportation process, help the local economy, and provide you with more nutritious and flavorful food.

Eat Local Week, Sep. 10 – 17, is a challenge designed to rally the community to eat more locally produced food. Here is the challenge: eat as local as you can for one week. Eating local is one way that we can all help clear the air and keep our community healthy.

Fresh, local plums.

Photo by Suitcase Foodist.

The Eat Local Week challenge has three levels: Hardcore, Easy-Does-It, and DIY. Going Hardcore means you consume only food grown, raised, produced, or caught within Utah boundaries. Easy-Does-It challenges you to choose a few food groups for the week that you will commit to purchase from local farmers. DIY encourages those who might be new to the local food scene to start simply with one local meal a day, or by including more local ingredients in something you eat all the time.

The challenge offers a number of prizes. If you take the Eat Local pledge before Aug. 31, you will be entered to win a week CSA share from B.U.G. Farms. You could also win a Blendtec Blender or Farmers Market Gift Basket by using local ingredients in the Recipe Contest. Lastly, you can participate in the FoodQuest – a week-long food adventure and scavenger hunt with a $500 cash prize.

Raw local honey.Salt Lake City has an abundance of locally grown food to help you with the challenge. One of the easiest ways to find locally grown food is at the University of Utah’s Farmers Market. The market is at Tanner Plaza just west of the Union, on Thursdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Aug. 25 – Oct. 6.

Besides our on-campus farmers market, there are several other farmers markets that offer local food close to campus. These include:

You can also find local produce in many Salt Lake City grocery stores. Be sure to keep and eye out for small signs next to the price that indicates the food is local. Some of these signs say “Utah’s Own,” others “I’m Local.”
Beehive CheeseKeep the challenge going by using alternative forms of travel – walking or biking, bus or TRAX, to reduce the overall impacts of transportation. UTA has a trip mapper tool that will help you find which bus routes are the most direct and have the least amount of travel time. Google Maps also has transit information for Salt Lake City.

Eat Local Week celebrates the regional harvest season by promoting local food artisans, honoring Utah’s agricultural heritage, and empowering the community to make conscious food choices. Even small changes in your food consumption habits can have a great impact on the environment, economy, producer, and you.

The challenge is up to you.

Bianca Greeff is a graduate student in Environmental Humanities, and working towards the Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate in Sustainability.

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