Y'all know how important local food is to me. I'm all about gardening, farmers' markets and supporting local agriculture. So last year when my friend Claire over at Bent Arrow Acres challenged herself to eat only local for the month of August, I was in awe! And I planned to try to do it for a week this summer. BUT Claire is doing the whole month again this year and has created a challenge (with prizes) for others to join her. So we're going to give it a go and join in.
My biggest concerns are: Our oldest starts kindergarten this year, and I have no idea how this will affect our schedules and daily life yet. My husband will continue classes for his masters. And I have small kids that eat what we eat for meals...no short-order cook here.
As a perfectionist, I have already identified that I could easily let the challenge overwhelm and stress me out. I DO NOT want that! To prevent this, I'm already speaking grace over myself. The challenge does allow for people to pick some "freebie" items and I'm probably being more lenient with our family than I would if it were just my husband and myself or if we had older kids. And if I fall off the wagon for a meal or a day, I'll just do my best the next.
My plan is to visit Lucky's Market and Bloomingfoods a couple of times during the challenge. While they are a bit further away, they have a great variety of Indiana produced foods and products. There are also a few things that I'm allowing as "freebie" items that I'll only allow if I get them from either of these stores' bulk sections. Partly because I'm excited about how this challenge can help us reduce our waste and partly because doing this will keep me from being too quick to grab things off the local grocery's shelves.
Obviously we have the garden and our own eggs, so we will try to eat a lot from there. We also have locally raised beef, pork and one of Bent Arrow's chickens in our deep freezer that will take care of any meat we eat. Things from the garden that we will definitely be able to eat are tomatoes, eggplant, green beans, carrots, shallots, garlic, peppers and maybe corn (It isn't looking too hot.). Hopefully my zucchini, summer squash and watermelon plants will do something this month too!
We also have access to two farmers' markets, one on Tuesdays and one on Saturdays. We will shop here frequently as well during the challenge.
Baked goods are something that we already make homemade most of the time. All bread will be homemade and I'm excited to try to make tortillas and hamburger buns this month!
Our Freebie List
Freebies are things that you can't find local or can't easily make yourself. HOWEVER, this list should not allow you to buy everything you normally do. It's a CHALLENGE, remember? That being said, I do have a few items that are freebies for the kids and not for my husband and myself because I'm just not going to make a 7 month old, 3 year old and 5 year old go completely without some of their favorite things like bananas and shredded cheese.
- All flours (bread, all-purpose, whole wheat, etc.)
- Additional baking items (baking soda/powder, salt, etc.)
- Cocoa powder (bulk only-we make our own chocolate syrup for the kids' milk and my coffee creamer)
- Spices (although most herbs dried or fresh will come from my garden)
- Heavy Cream
- Cultured Buttermilk
- Milk (do plan to try to get some from Traders Point and Oberweis, but won't be able to get it all from them)
- Peanut Butter (bulk only-my kids love PBJ sandwiches and my husband takes them to work a lot)
- Dry pasta
- Cooking Oils (plan to purchase California Olive Oil and Healthy Hoosier Oils when at all possible)
- Cheeses (This is mostly for the kids. I plan to try to avoid cheese as much as possible. And I do plan to try my hand at making mozzarella!)
- Condiments (ketchup and mustard mostly. I plan to try to make my own ranch dressing and always make my own mayo)
As far as restaurants are concerned, I'm saying that all are fair game. I know this is an area that Claire is really good about choosing only locally owned places, but one request of my kids when we have to go to Bloomington is Chick-Fil-A. We also occasionally grab a pizza when I'm single parenting for the night while my husband is in class. So the plan is to TRY to avoid chains, but I'm not going to beat myself up if its been a crazy and I breakdown and get a carry out pizza from Pizza Hut.
I'm also giving myself a pass on anything already in the house...and no, I'm not going out to stock up on items before the challenge so that I can use this as an excuse. However, I haven't planned a cleaning out of the pantry this week because of other stuff going on, so if it's already here, its fair game until it runs out.
And my new kindergartener will eat in the cafeteria at school on some days.
How You Can Join
If you think this is something you want to try, even for just one day or one meal, you CAN make a difference! Visit Bent Arrow Acres's website for more information and to get on their mailing list for tips and rules for the prizes! I hope to be able to share weekly posts about what we ate, but at the very least, you can follow along on social media. Use the hashtag #bentarrowschallenge2018 to see what I'm cooking as well as what everyone else is trying!