Milllenial Matters: Why I Decided to Eat All Local Foods for a Month (And What I’ve Learned)
- Sep. 26, 2012
- 1 Comment
This is the sixth in a series of guest columns published every Wednesday highlighting young activists in the local community and the issues they are passionate about. To submit a guest column to be part of this series, contact PoliticalFiber.com editor Brianne Pfannenstiel at email@example.com.
On Sept 6th, I started a 30-day local food project. I only consume foods grown or raised within a 100-mile radius of Lawrence. I started this project because I wanted a challenge. We’ve all heard about the benefits of eating local, but I wanted to see how eating local would affect my body and wallet. And as someone who really enjoys fast food and sugary soda, I knew it was going to be an interesting process. One friend even half-joked I may die from malnutrition if I only eat local because I know so little about what makes a healthy diet.
But so far I’ve lost around 5 pounds, I know that I only have few more months to eat grass-fed beef, and I get visibly excited whenever I find sprout varieties. I get up about an hour earlier to prepare food, have started exercising to go along with the healthier lifestyle, and try to go to all three Lawrence farmers’ markets every week.
It didn’t take me long to realize that this project isn’t really about food; it’s about people. My family, friends, and all of the farmers, growers and food distributors I’ve met have helped me stick with this project, believe in myself and learn more about the food I consume.
My friends and family have been very supportive of this project. My mom sends me simple recipes and gives me cooking tips. I’ll call her up anytime and ask what I can substitute for this or that or so she can talk me down from a fast food binge. My brothers and sisters-in-law send me food articles or feedback on a video or post. My dad told me Alma, Kan. has the best cheese (it’s really good!). My boss surprises me with local snacks at work. She was more excited than anyone when I started this project. She’s even bringing me locally caught fish.
I plan on getting food from a friend’s backyard garden and setting up weekly local potlucks. I’m building better relationships with people, because I’m building better relationships with the food I eat.
I’ve also met a lot of farmers. I first met Tim and Laurel Iwig, who own Iwig Dairy in Tecumseh, Kan., during a cow milking demonstration in Lawrence’s
South Park. A few days later I traveled to Tecumseh for a farm tour. Laurel led the tour and gave me full access to the farm. Laurel answered all my questions and we talked for around an hour about Iwig’s history and practices. Knowing the people I am buying the milk from and actually seeing the cows makes this project worthwhile.
Everyone at the farmers’ markets and grocery stores I’ve been to have also been very accommodating. The other day I stopped by The Community Mercantile (The Merc), and talked to Brian Phillips, the Operations Manager. He was very excited to talk to me about the relationship The Merc has with local growers and how they support each other. Brian used to work in fast food and is very passionate about local food and building the local community.
This project is about half over and I feel wonderful about it. Local food is more expensive, but I think even after my project is over I will still support local farmers as much as I can. I eat local because of the people who produce or grow the food, because I care about what I put in my body and because I want to support and be a part of the Lawrence food community.
Tyler Waugh is a 25-year-old journalist and University of Kansas graduate living in Lawrence, Kan. To read more about The Locavore Project, visit his blog.