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Actually eating local in the ‘Eat Local Challenge’

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When I started the Eat Local Challenge, I imagined how easy it was gonna be. I mean, how hard could it be to eat local in city that LOVES food? Now, depending on how you look at it, eating local seems like a cinch. If you want a good shrimp po-boy, then head to Zimmer’s St. Anthony. Need a big ol’ hamburger…then Beachcorner on Canal St. got you covered. Looking for some Mediterranean…Mona’s on Banks got some awesome kebabs. Or what about breakfast? Well, Cake Café & Bakery on Chartres got French toast to die for. All local all the time!
 
But for this challenge, it’s imperative that the ingredients used to make food at these local restaurants be LOCAL. Yep, that changes the game quite a bit. So that means simple things like my Tony Chachere’s and Zatarain’s might have to be shelved for this month. Yikes!
Not to fear, the Eat Local Challenge provided all registrants with salt from Breaux Bridge to start us off and that begins one of my almost-local meals for the week (yeah, I know I said I was doing the Ultrastrict level, but I can change my mind, can’t I? That’s what I thought).
Eat Local Challenge 2012 | IntheNOLA.com
So my good friend and fellow relay member, Glynda, came over to help me on this journey of local eating. We started off with some all local blueberry mojitos, including mint from Glynda’s garden, blueberries from Hollygrove Market, and Old New Orleans Rum. Then, we prepared an all-vegetarian pasta. Local ingredients included salt, onions, zucchini, squash, garlic, tomatoes, and mushrooms. We also used whole-wheat pasta and a jar of red sauce from Rouses (remember I explained that if the food itself wasn’t local, then buying local was gonna have to suffice…yeah, I’m sure you don’t remember). Combine that with Kentwood water and our Old New Orleans Rum mojitos and we had us a “local-enough” meal. For dessert, we had a refreshing fruit salad consisting of local mint, blueberries, peaches, plums, and honey with a side of Creole cream cheese ice cream by New Orleans Ice Cream Company (again, not all the ingredients in the ice cream were local, but the company itself sufficed).
 
After we had finished eating and had time to sit back and reflect on the meal, it really felt great to know that we supported so many local companies and farmers because of the ingredients we purchased for this meal. When we think about eating local, we automatically think about staying away from the TGIFriday's, Chili’s, and Outbacks, rather than thinking about those people who put the actual food on the table. Do these strawberries come from California or Ponchatoula? Is this milk from a local farmer or a farm in Indiana? Are these eggs collected locally or shipped to us from some far away place?
 
The Eat Local Challenge has made me think more deeply about these kinds of questions and even though our meal wasn’t 100% local, it still felt good to know that we had done our part in the growth of our local and regional community.

Last modified on Wednesday, 20 June 2012
LaTesha Charbonnet Gonzales

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