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The Locavore Challenge is a challenge which asks participants to eat locally for a set period of time, such as one week or a month. May and September are popular months for a Locavore Challenge, because of the large amount of food available locally during this months. A Locavore Challenge is usually sponsored by a regional eat local association, although participants from all over the world are welcome to join in. The challenge is designed to get consumers thinking about the benefits and challenges of eating locally, and to support individuals who are attempting to eat a more locally based diet.
Typically, the radius included in a Locavore Challenge is within 100 miles (161 kilometers) of the dinner table. In a strict Locavore Challenge, every food item consumed by the household must come from within this radius, while less heavily regulated challenges allow exemptions for difficult to source foods or special circumstances. This local eating area is sometimes referred to as a “foodshed,” because, much like a watershed, it is comprised of many elements which exist in a delicate balance.
Promoters of Locavore Challenges believe that eating locally is better for the environment, the consumer, the economy, and the community. They usually provide a list of reasons to eat local which includes things like connecting with local food producers, keeping money in the community, reducing an ecological footprint, and learning more about the natural environment. Under the terms of the Locavore Challenge, participants must gather or purchase food from within the foodshed, and they are encouraged to exchange tips and information with each other on websites.
One of the largest Locavore Challenges occurs in the San Francisco Bay Area every May, and it is called the “Eat Local Challenge.” In 2007, the founding organization added the Pennywise Eat Local Challenge, in which participants must eat locally while spending the same amount of money that the average American does on food. For a single person, this expenditure is $68 US Dollars (USD) every week, while a two person household with one wage earner spends $121 USD, and two wage earners typically spend $144 USD. The Pennywise Eat Local Challenge is designed to stimulate discussion about American spending priorities, and whether or not it is possible to fulfill a Locavore Challenge while following typical American spending patterns.
To participate in a Locavore Challenge, you can look up a regional Eat Local Challenge, or join up with another challenge happening in another area. If you have not extensively explored a 100 mile diet, it is highly recommended that you network with a local group which can help you source local foods and connect you with local food producers. The challenge can be a fun learning experience for the entire household, and may spark some permanent changes in your eating habits, or at least some serious dinner table discussions.