Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Locally Grown: The Locavore Challenge

NYLocavoreChallengeLogo“Think you’ve got what it takes to be a true locavore?”  That’s the question posed by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York’s (NOFA-NY) annual Locavore Challenge.  For the past 4 years, NOFA-NY has sponsored this event in recognition of National Organic Harvest Month, and it’s gaining ground.  If you are a seasoned locavore, or just starting your foray into local eating, the Locavore Challenge has something for you.

What is a locavore, exactly?   At its simplest, the word defines someone who eats locally grown food whenever possible.   How you define “locally grown” is largely a personal decision. When considering where you’d like to purchase your food you must ask yourself what distance you are willing encompass and still feel comfortable calling it “local.”  50 miles? 100 miles?  If you draw a 100-mile radius around your home in, say, Chazy, you are going to include a sizeable chunk of New York, but also decent pieces of Vermont and Canada, possibly violating your own rules to stay within New York or even the United States!

There is no concrete definition of local.  Bottom line: go with what works for you and your family.  Most locavores procure their food as close to home as possible, expanding in an increasing radius until most of their needs are met.  The important thing to remember is that food dollars spent on local farmers will support the local economy, however you define it.

OK, back to the Locavore Challenge!  If you visit the NOFA-NY website (www.nofany.org) you’ll find the Challenge link prominently displayed on the home page.  Click through and you’ll get all the details.  There are different levels of challenges, a resource guide, events, dinners and even an essay contest.

Since this Challenge is sponsored by NOFA, the focus is naturally on organic food, and, while organic is a farming method I wholly support, I encourage everyone taking this challenge to support the local farms that are important to them.

It could be fun to host a “harvest dinner.”  NOFA lets you choose the date (in the last week of September) and plan the meal.  Your goal is to make at least half the ingredients local and/or organic while charging your guests a fee of your choosing to benefit NOFA.  There are prizes for best menu, most guests attending and most money raised.

Or, involving less work for you, attend a participating restaurant meal. Two Adirondack restaurants have stepped up to take the Locavore Challenge:

Green Goddess Natural Market in Lake Placid is serving a delicious meal from 4pm to 8pm on Friday, September 27, and

Turtle Island Café in Willsboro will be serving dinner on Sunday, September 29 from 5pm to 9pm.

Between them, they are sourcing food from at least 10 Adirondack farms.  Make your reservations for what will surely be creative and delicious fare!

If you choose to participate in the challenge, the NOFA-NY website has a long list of action items to explore.  There is no charge to participate; however, some events collect donations to NOFA-NY help to support organic farming efforts and eating locally in New York.  Even if you don’t participate you’ll find scads of useful information about eating local.  And be sure to check out the Adirondack Harvest website and use the search engine to find specific local foods.


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Laurie Davis is an Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Essex County and is the Coordinator for Adirondack Harvest.

For more information on agriculture in Northern New York, visit the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Northern New York website at www.ccenny.com and www.nnyagdev.org or call 518-962-4810.

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