Today marks the end of the New Orleans Eat Local Challenge. True to its name – at times eating only foods from within 200 miles of our city was difficult (read about week one and week two). Still, the experience was filled with fun and inspired endless creativity. I learned new recipes, and perhaps most notably, discovered a slew of local products that I might not have but for the Challenge (did you know we have figs and sugar available locally?).
A ton of time went to thinking about and discussing our food culture here and beyond – in particular when shopping for, picking and preparing local food. What is really sustainable? How do we encourage a more “locavore” mentality, especially in a city where, despite rich food traditions, is also so much about tourism and haute cuisine? What about packing materials, processing of products, shipping and refrigeration costs (to us and our planet)? Many questions are still unanswered, and I with others continue to ponder how to help build a healthy, green, accessible food culture.
Exciting things are on the horizon. A number of new farms are literally sprouting on rooftops, formerly abandoned lots, and in community gardens. Recirculating Farms Coalition is joining with the New Orleans Food and Farm Network to build an urban food and farm center – where we can highlight various farming methods, host classes, workshops, and special events, all related to healthy, fresh local food.
Congrats to all the Eat Local participants – thanks to the Locavores for another successful event – and we look forward to helping our local food system continue to grow.