A carbon-light diet

Co-ops promoting month-long ‘Eat Local’ challenge

The Linden Hills and the Wedge Community co-ops in Southwest have teamed up with 70 natural foods co-ops across the country for the “Eat Local America” challenge.

The challenge started Aug. 15 and runs through Sept. 15. The Southwest co-ops are among 11 in the Twin Cities taking part in the eat local campaign.

Those interested in the challenge can sign up at a participating co-op by signing a poster pledging their intent to have at least 80 percent of their food come from local sources within the five-state area and less than eight hours away.

Elizabeth Archerd, member services manager for the Wedge, said it’s nice to see that interest in local food has been on the rise. Area co-ops, she noted, have been promoting local food for three decades.

“It’s important for our local economics that we support local producers, whether it’s a locally owned bookstore or a local grower,” she said. “… It’s part of affirming stewardship in our area, and any number of studies have shown that every dollar spent locally recycles in the community more than a dollar spent on something outside of the community.”

On average, the food that makes up the typical American dinner travels 1,500 miles before it reaches the plate, according to the “Eat Local America” website, and has a much bigger carbon footprint, as a result, than local produce.

Jeanne Lakso, member services manager for the Linden Hills Co-op, said those who participate in the challenge stand to see many benefits beyond the often-touted environmental ones.

“I think it’s fun. It puts you in tune with what’s fresh, what’s in season. You might even get to meet some local farmers or artisan cheese makers. It’s kind of like bringing the farmers home with you” she said. “Think of all the fun you have on Saturday morning when you go to the farmers’ market and there’s the guy, right there — he just grew those carrots. You get an idea of what he’s like — maybe his kids are there helping him sell the carrots. We’re trying to bring that fun and excitement back to getting your food, instead of making supermarket shopping your least favorite thing to do.”

The co-op features 150 different local suppliers and that list is steadily growing. Shoppers can find more than two dozen locally produced cheeses, for instance.

The co-op has planned several events tied to the “Eat Local America” challenge. It kicked off the first-ever “Livin’ La Vida Local” salsa contest on Aug. 21 as part of the Linden Hills Live festival, which was judged by City Council Member Betsy Hodges (13th Ward), neighborhood volunteer Bryce Hamilton and Michelle Hause, editor of Edible Twin Cities.

FYI

For more information on the Eat Local America or to take part in the challenge, go to  eatlocalamerica.coop. The website features several bloggers, recipes and profiles offarmers and co-ops.

In Southwest

Southwest co-ops participating in the Eat Local America challenge
• Linden Hills Co-op, 2813 W. 43rd St.
lindenhills.coop

• The Wedge Community Co-op, 2105 Lyndale Ave. S. 
wedge.coop (To visit the Wedge’s blog on the challenge, go to eatlocalatthewedge.blogspot.com)