Because I took the challenge literally and I only ate locally grown foods, I had a lot of difficulties. Although I didn’t end up spending a large amount of money on local food, I did spend a lot of time cooking. It was in no way convenient. Luckily, my week for eating local was in September and midterms hadn’t hit yet so I had plenty of time. The only portable snacks that I had were apples, pears, and carrots, so I needed to cook or bake in advance if I wanted to bring something more substantial. I would estimate that on average I cooked for at least an hour and a half per day. I would often cook large amounts of local beans and wheat berries at a time to have on hand. Normally, I go for canned beans and this was my first experience cooking with dried beans. They take hours to cook and on top of that, they need to be soaked overnight first. Luckily my roommate had a slow cooker so it took lots of time but not lots of effort. I don’t normally drink coffee so that wasn’t a problem but I did miss tea. By the end of the week, I had strong cravings for chai tea, almonds, hummus, cereal, and bananas and these were the foods that I ate first when my week was done.
Unlike my fellow group members, cost wasn’t a big issue for me. Local meat is extremely expensive but this didn’t apply to me because I am a vegetarian. In addition, I think the fact that I chose to only eat local ingredients instead of locally made products helped with the cost. Although I had to spend a lot of time cooking them, local winter wheat berries and beans were very inexpensive and made up a large part of my diet. Also, I got the majority of my produce from the farmers market which had much better prices than the grocery stores. In an average week, I spend 40 dollars on food. For my localvore week, my groceries only cost 15 dollars extra and I had plenty of food left over. For one week that doesn’t seem like a lot however I can see how it would add up over time.
It surprised me how much work I needed to do to prepare for my week of local eating. I scoured the stores beforehand and did a lot of research on certain local companies to see whether all their ingredients were really local. I found that I couldn’t eat Cabot cheese, use King Arthur flour, or drink Magic Hat because all of their ingredients are not locally sourced. The only alcohol I could drink was local wine, cider, or vodka but in the end I couldn’t afford those. In a way, these dietary restrictions gave me a sense of isolation and made me feel left out. I couldn’t go to out to eat or to bars with my friends unless I didn’t order anything. I suppose on the plus side I ate extremely healthy that week and ended up getting a lot of work done because I couldn’t go out.