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6 EAT 50% LOCAL FOOD

This action focuses on reducing energy needed to transport food by changing buying habits to purchase at least 50% of food from local sources.

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why?

Local Food Examples

While food transportation is only one part of the overall energy put into the food system, it presents a strong opportunity for individuals to have a positive impact on the sustainability of our food. The average American dinner travels 1,500 miles from farm to consumer (Leopold Center 2001), making significant contributions to greenhouse gas emissions and energy use. In addition, the freshness, taste and nutritional value of foods are compromised when traveling from different areas of the country and world. The average fruit or vegetable can spend as many as seven to fourteen days in transit before arriving in a supermarket (Choate). In contrast, locally grown fruits and vegetables are usually sold within 24 hours of being harvested, use less transportation energy and result in less food waste due to spoilage.


how to do this action:

Minnesota is in the nation's second largest organic growing region, and while the winter months inhibit our ability to source local produce all year long, this is not the case for all products.

FINDING LOCAL FOODS

Becoming aware of what local products are available and where you can find them is the first step to incorporating more local food into your diet. There are many sources for local food, some of which make it easy to identify local foods and others which require more effort.

Farmer Markets

Farmer's markets most often focus on locally produced products. However, some also allow non-local producers to sell. Make sure when buying at a farmer's market that you either buy from an all-local market or ask the vendor where they food is grown.

CSA

In a similar way, becoming a member of a Community Supported Agriculture program will guarantee that the produce you eat is local.

Food cooperatives

Food co-ops are also a good choice for finding local food as they are often clearly labeled and sourced whenever possible. Minneapolis' oldest food co-op -The Wedge- (among others) labels all local food with yellow stickers and information about each local supplier can be found on their website for further research. In addition, The Wedge sums local products as a percentage of each customers receipt. "As a result, local sales are more prominent and now represent 34% of total sales" (The Wedge).

Grocery stores and supermarkets also may have locally sourced products but it is less likely. If possible, speak with a store manager about what local products they provide to help orient you with what is available.

COOKING WITH LOCAL FOODS

Orienting your diet to include at least 50% local ingredients will undoubtedly change the types of foods you eat and how you cook. This can be a fun challenge! One of the big differences is that it is likely that you will begin to cook with more raw ingredients, as it is nearly impossible to find boxed and pre-packaged items which are locally grown and produced. For example, one might learn to cook pasta, crackers and breads from scratch using local flours.

Diets will be more focused on ingredients which can be found locally. Ideas for all-local meals which can be prepared seasonally can be found in local cookbooks such as the Northern Heartland Kitchen, by Beth Dooley.

Even locally-produced beer and wine can be found and may open up a whole new world of flavors and opportunities to entertain yourself and friends visiting local breweries and wineries. Yes, even in Minnesota there are local wineries!

Depending on the season, this action may be fairly easy to accomplish or could be quite challenging. During the growing season in Minnesota (May to October), local produce is plentiful and easy to find at farmer's markets and food co-ops. However, because of the short growing season, doing this action during the late fall, winter and early spring will require a set of preservation skills not necessary when fresh produce is available. For more information about preserving foods see here:
Food Action 5: Preserve Local Foods For the Off-Season


what will be measured?

KEY QUESTIONS

QUANTITATIVE QUESTION: To what degree were you able to incorporate local food into your diet by switching to a diet of 50% local foods?

QUALITATIVE QUESTION: How does the experience of eating 50% local food affect satisfaction/happiness, convenience, health, and costs?

BASELINE WEEK TRACKING

QUANTITATIVE
During the baseline tracking week before the project begins, use the corresponding spreadsheet (F6_BASELINE) to track all food purchases (in dollars) and indicate what percentage of food you currently buy is local.

QUALITATIVE


Qualitative Scale

Using the above scale as a visual, rate each of the following criteria on the spreadsheet (F6_BASELINE) as it relates to your current food consumption habits:

  • 1. SATISFACTION/HAPPINESS
    (Overall, how much enjoyment or dissatisfaction do you get out of doing and completing this behavior?)

  • 2. CONVENIENCE
    (How easy/difficult and accessible/inaccessible is this behavior for you to do and complete?)

  • 3. HEALTH
    (How healthy/unhealthy and safe/unsafe does this behavior make you feel?)

  • 4. COST
    (How much does this behavior cost? Use positive numbers for being above average and negative numbers for being below average and zero for being average.)

IMPLEMENTATION PHASE TRACKING

QUANTITATIVE
Use the corresponding spreadsheet (F6_QUANTITATIVE) to track the percentage of local foods purchased with each trip. The goal of this action is to have at least 50% of weekly food purchases be from local sources. While each trip to the grocery store need not be 50% local, by the end of the week, the purchases should average out to this total.

QUALITATIVE
Part 1 - Ranking


Qualitative Scale

Using the above scale as a visual, rate each of the following criteria, every IMPLEMENTATION day on the spreadsheet (F6_QUALITATIVE) Your answers should not be rated in comparison to your baseline week, but in general as a reflection of how you are feeling.

  • 1. SATISFACTION/HAPPINESS
    (Overall, how much enjoyment or dissatisfaction do you get out of doing and completing this behavior?)

  • 2. CONVENIENCE
    (How easy/difficult and accessible/inaccessible is this behavior for you to do and complete?)

  • 3. HEALTH
    (How healthy/unhealthy and safe/unsafe does this behavior make you feel?)

  • 4. COST
    (How much does this behavior cost? Use positive numbers for being above average and negative numbers for being below average and zero for being average.)

Part 2 - Blogging
Keep a narrative log of your experiences changing this action in your life. Did eating local foods change your diet or what you cooked? Were you happy with the changes you had to make or were there foods that you feel you sacrificed?


resources

The Cookboook: The Northern Heartland Kitchen, by Beth Dooley

ACTION SPREADSHEETS

The spreadsheets referred to above can be found in the Excel file at the following link:

F6_Eat 50% Local Food Spreadsheet

If you prefer to enter your responses by hand, printable PDFs of each spreadsheet can be found at the following links (at the end of the project, all data will have to be entered into the Excel spreadsheet):

F6_BASELINE
F6_QUANTITATIVE
F6_QUALITATIVE