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Trading Eggs For Wine In The 2013 Eat Local Challenge

When Kaitlyn Stewart decided to participate in the Eat Local Challenge last October, she never imagined she’d be trading her backyard chicken and duck eggs for local wine with a neighbor.

It was the 2013 Eat Local Challenge, which encouraged participants to eat and drink only local products that Kaitlyn has to thank for the moment of neighborly bonding. Kaitlyn had previously participated in the 2012 challenge, in which she had focused on only buying local fruits and vegetables. She continued the practice over the next year, and when it came time for the 2013 pledge, she knew she wanted to push herself even further by committing to “doing everything local.”

When Kaitlyn Stewart decided to participate in the Eat Local Challenge last October, she never imagined she’d be trading her backyard chicken and duck eggs for local wine with a neighbor.

It was the 2013 Eat Local Challenge, which encouraged participants to eat and drink only local products that Kaitlyn has to thank for the moment of neighborly bonding. Kaitlyn had previously participated in the 2012 challenge, in which she had focused on only buying local fruits and vegetables. She continued the practice over the next year, and when it came time for the 2013 pledge, she knew she wanted to push herself even further by committing to “doing everything local.”

Kaitlyn entered a contest hosted by CEC and Edible Santa Barbara and won a basket of local food that included some of the more challenging and expensive local items, like cheese, butter, and meat.

She and her boyfriend, who was also participating, defined their local radius as the 25 miles around Santa Barbara County. She did stretch her range for a few things — a certain Napa Valley wine — so when her neighbor offered to trade wine for her eggs, she was delighted to be able to make even her wine consumption more local.

Still, Kaitlyn found keeping her pledge particularly difficult — at least at first. For starters, her garden was in transition from summer to fall, so she wasn’t able to rely on it for fresh vegetables as much as she’d wanted to. And she found meal planning, especially for dinner with more limited ingredients and preset recipes, a headache. “It was hard. I could think of recipes, and then I would be missing one or two main ingredients,” she said. Chicken noodle soup isn’t really the same without chicken broth.

She refused to be deterred by a few cups of broth. She bought a whole chicken from Lily’s Eggs, a Fillmore-based farm, and then used the bones to make her own broth and froze it. And she found heating water with bunches of herbs soaked in it to be a great substitute as well.

Soon, she found it easier to craft meals by experimenting with the ingredients she did have and by learning how to use herbs better to add different flavors and textures to her food. About halfway through the month, she was surprised to realize that “the challenge wasn’t very challenging anymore.” To compensate for her garden’s limited supplies, she relied on produce from Givens Farms and Fairview Gardens at the local farmers’ markets, and she frequented the Plow to Porch store on State Street for extra items.

“I learned that by setting a goal, practicing, and setting my mind to something, I could make an ever-lasting change in my behavior. Once the challenge was over, it wasn’t hard to keep going. I am still eating approximately 90-95% locally without giving it much thought!”

The average food item travels 1,500 miles from farm to table, and there are a whole slew of climate change inducing emissions that accompany the trip, not to mention lost benefits to the local economy. According to Kaitlyn, it makes environmental and ethical sense to eat locally, an action that she sees as one part of a broader community-based sustainability, where “sharing food, recipes, and ideas can connect people and increase their responsibility for taking care of their community.”

For Kaitlyn, swapping eggs for wine is just the beginning.

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