Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Reflections from Alisha Bess on the Eat Local Challenge

As you may remember reading, our office took the Eat Local Challenge two weeks ago. We each planned a dinner that used all local ingredients and shared with you (and our flickr friends) the outcome. Well, now we have a guest writer sharing her experience. Alisha Bess is from Whole Foods Market Buckhead and is responsible for organizing the second annual Eat Local Challenge. Below she shares why this challenge was important to her and her overall thoughts on Atlantans eating local...

"It all started last year when I read an article about how writers from a local newspaper decided to eat nothing but local foods for 1 week. After reading about their experiences I was inspired to take the challenge myself. As I started talking to my fellow Whole Foods Market Team Members, we not only decided to do it ourselves, but challenge customers to eat local as well. And thus the Eat Local Challenge was born. This was our 2nd year of the Eat Local Challenge and it was bigger and better. There were so many highlights to this year’s challenge that it’s hard to stay focused on just a few. First, of course, there’s the food. The number and variety of delicious food treasures across Georgia could keep the most advanced culinary mind tantalized for days. It was a pleasure for my team and I to compile recipes to help people along the challenge. Our own writings, in addition to recipes generously contributed from local chef/writer Virginia Willis and various local producers gave us more recipes than we could include!

"In addition to the amazing recipes, this year’s challenge showed me a community more engaged in the local food movement. The awareness of gas prices on food prices has really impacted pockets and awakened consumers’ minds about where food comes from. Not to mention the recent food recalls and the abundance of information about the down right scary things that occur in some food production has no longer made words like “irradiation,” “pesticides” or “animal byproduct” a mystery. Never before have I heard more people say “I already eat as much local as possible. Between Whole Foods and the farmer’s markets, this is where I do all my shopping.”
"Whole Foods Market has always been a big proponent of eating local and supporting the farmers and producers who put their hearts into making the most delicious foods around. And now it is starting to make sense to others. And by others, I mean the tons of other retailers who have jumped on the local bandwagon. Local is the new organic. And as we know, trends sell.

"So although we may not have had tons of people sign up for the challenge, we were able to engage and continue the conversation about the ease and importance of eating local. So to the Georgia newcomer, who has never been blessed with fresh pasta from Via Elisa, mouthwatering beef from Harris Family Heritage Beef, creamy chevre from Sweet Grass Dairy, sipped one of Georgia’s award-winning wines, or had peaches, tomatoes, squash or any other amazing Georgia foods-wake up and embrace what it really means to be Georgia-grown."

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