EatLocal365 is participating in Urban Hennery’s Dark Days Challenge.
It’s not that difficult to limit yourself to local and sustainable food in-season, when the bounty of the harvest provides everything fresh, from berries to baby lettuces to tomatoes. It’s also easier to dedicate yourself mentally to cooking a meal when the sun stays out past 9:00pm. When the days get short, and the selection gets sparse, that’s the hard part.
The Dark Days Challenge is designed to support people and challenge them to eat locally, even during the “dark days” of winter, when the greenmarket shrinks and local vegetables are limited to root and storage vegetables like tubers and parsnips. That’s our personal goal as well, and the goal of EatLocal365 it to share what we learn. This challenge is a great fit.
The challenge runs from December 1st through April 15th.
The challenge is to cook four meals each month (1 per week) focused on SOLE (sustainable, organic, local, ethical) ingredients, and to share the experience through our blog.
Urban Hennery’s default definition of “local” is food grown within 150 miles. Our definition is going to be a maximum of 250 miles, since that is the limit imposed by the NYC Greenmarket Program, and that is where buy most of our food. However, most of the farms that we buy from are located within 100 miles.
As for the organic and ethical elements, the Greenmarket program does not screen for that. However, over time we have spoken to many farmers and other vendors at the market and our preferred vendors are those that fit the organic and ethical profile.
We are very lucky to have access to the Union Square Greenmarket because not only is it open year-round (even through it gets significantly smaller), but there are also vendors from bio-dynamic beef, poultry, and game farms. There are local dairies and cheese makers. Locally grown and milled grain is even available now. For the rest of the year we try to focus on eating mostly vegetables and less meat, dairy, and grains (thanks Michael Pollan!). During the winter, though, to stay local, we will shift to relying on these terrific vendors. That’s the nature of local eating: to shift your eating habits with the seasons instead of relying on a tomato transported from Mexico or California.
We do have a few exceptions, for items that are never available locally:
- Spices (including salt and pepper)
We also reserve the right to use the following, although we are going to try some tips and tricks to avoid using them or at least to use them less frequently. This includes selecting recipes that don’t use them, and using substitutes, such as making ghee from local butter instead of using olive oil:
- Oils and vinegars
- Dried herbs
- Chocolate (for baking dessert)
Also, we will sometimes use local but out-of-season ingredients we canned or preserved previously.