What have I learned from the Eat Local Challenge? Well, it’s just that: a challenge. I found that keeping a positive attitude helped me get through the week, even when I was feeling discouraged. I learned that, even in a place like Burlington, which seems to have a lot of alternative food choices, not everyone can afford to eat locally (both for money reasons and access reasons, as well as time reasons). From an on campus perspective, eating locally proved to have its challenges, but, for me, it really had more benefits than setbacks.
For once in my life I felt like my food choices were directly benefiting my health as well as the local economy and environment. The challenge also introduced me to new foods, caused me to be more creative with the meals I was eating, and made me actually think about what I was consuming. If nothing else, the challenge acted as an eye-opener to my eating habits. You know when there are things you really want to try, but never actually do, or maybe it just takes a little push to get you to try it? Eating locally was like that for me. I found the Eat Local Challenge gave me the little push I needed to experience eating completely locally and because I’ve now experienced it, I’ll always incorporate some aspect of eating locally into my diet.
Since doing this project, I’ve caught myself reading food packages more often to find out where it was produced. The other day, I noticed the Marketplace in the Davis Center sells Madhouse Munchies, which are made right in South Burlington. I also realized that Alice’s Café sells the equivalent of Madhouse Munchies but they’re from Texas. Because I eat more regularly from Alice’s, I decided to buy extra bags of Madhouse Munchies from the Marketplace so I could bring them to Alice’s and eat them with my sandwich, thereby preventing myself from buying the chips from Texas. I think it’s the little things like this that really showcase the benefits of finally taking the plunge and trying to eat locally. If more people were more aware of where their food comes from, I think they would be more likely to choose the more local product, just like I did.