André Darlington takes the Eat Local Challenge

The cover story in this week’s Isthmus features André Darlington’s four-week effort to adhere to a regional diet. He describes Willy Street Co-op’s Eat Local Challenge as follows:

Going local can mean a big change in eating habits. So as not to scare off would-be participants, there are three levels of intensity.

The easiest is “loophole locavore.” This allows for participants to eat out at restaurants that source locally, as well as buy locally processed foods (even when the ingredients may not have been grown here). Think RP’s Pasta or Potter’s Crackers — great local companies; not necessarily local wheat.

Next is the “extreme locavore.” As the Willy Street Co-op defines it, this allows for five nonlocal items that entrants feel they simply cannot live without. Common choices are coffee, chocolate and lemons.

Finally, there’s the 100% local. It allows for one exception: salt.

At first, winnowing out nonlocal foods seems like a painful study in self-deprivation. Brendon Smith, the co-op’s Eat Local Challenge coordinator, estimates that only 5%-10% of Madison’s participants go completely local. “I’m always surprised it’s more than three people,” Smith admits, “because it is so hard.”

To see which track Darlington opted for and how well he fared over the four weeks (hint: one section is titled “Surviving, thriving … cheating”), head to the full article here. It’s a thoughtful and nicely written piece, so check it out!

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