How Local Can You Go?

Join the Eat Local America Challenge

During the next two months, and specifically from July 15th-August 15th, Bloomingfoods Market and Deli will be participating in a community-wide Eat Local America Challenge. Conceived by the National Cooperative Growers Association (NCGA) to celebrate and support the growing interest in locally grown foods, Eat Local America encourages individuals and families to increase the amount of local food they consume. We are suggesting that participants try to use four out of five ingredients in their meals from food grown or produced locally.   
 "We have been holding a conversation about local food for a long time now," says Alan Simmerman, prepared foods manager at the Near West Side Bloomingfoods at 6th and Madison. "Whether you define 'local' as within a 100 mile radius – as many people do – or as within a day's drive, the goal is to think about where your food comes from, and to take advantage of the many fine products available here."
 "We are fortunate to have a lot of growers and food producers in our area," says Maggie Sullivan, director of the Local Growers Guild. The LGG is an agricultural cooperative with the mission to educate, support and connect local growers, consumers, businesses and communities in Southern Indiana. It publishes a guide (for sale at the co-op) and maintains a website where information is shared about the wide variety of products available in our region.
Besides the many local food items on our shelves and in our produce cases, Bloomingfoods supports the City of Bloomington in bringing the Tuesday Market to Madison Street, next to our Near West Side store. There, you'll find local growers (and music!) every Tuesday afternoon from 4 pm to 7 pm. We also feature Farmers' Markets at the East store on Wednesday and Saturday mornings during the summer and early fall.

"Co-ops offer a great connection to farmers and their food, and in our town there are also many restaurants who now use local ingredients," says Teresa Birtles, president of the board of the Local Growers Guild. "Thursday night, July 24th, will be Dine Local Night in Bloomington, where you'll be able to find local foods on the menu of many local restaurants, including the cafés at Bloomingfoods. It's one more way you can support our local food economy – from the field to the fork."

A visit to the Eat Local America website, reveals an interactive map showing co-op communities participating in the challenge. It also offers profiles of farmers, a blog with stories from across the country, and recipes and tips for eating locally. You'll find the site at: eatlocalamerica.coop.
We will have posters and information in our stores for folks who wish to sign up for the challenge, signage calling attention to the many local products we carry, demonstrations focused on local producers, recipes, deli items marked 'local' and much more. 

"Although we are holding the Eat Local America challenge during the peak season for fresh produce, we hope you'll to continue to eat locally throughout the year," says Jean Kautt, member services coordinator for Bloomingfoods. "Fruits and vegetables can be preserved by canning, freezing and dehydrating, and local food is more than produce – all three of our stores have cheese, bread, eggs, meat, poultry, honey, and condiments from farmers and producers across the state. At the East and Near West Side stores we have local wine and beer, too."

Here are some facts concering the long and winding journey non-local food travels from the field to your table:
• On average, produce travels more than 1,500 miles from the industrial farm to your plate. (National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, 2008.)
• Processed food (such as canned goods) in the US travels over 1,300 miles on average to reach consumers. (National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, 2008.)
• Ten percent of all fossil fuel energy consumption in the US is used for food processing, transportation, storage, and preparation.  
(From "How Sustainable Agriculture Can Address the Environment and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture." Environment Health Perspectives, 2002.)