Take the Locavore Challenge

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

These days, everybody one meets seems to give lip service to the concept of eating locally, and most of us seem to be making small, incremental steps toward practicing that concept more fully. Talk is cheap; but luckily, we have organizations around like the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) whose mission is to remind us how truly costly it is – to our pocketbooks as well as to our health, our environment and the sustainability of our food supply – when we depend too much on edibles shipped in from places far away. That will become even more true in our children’s lifetimes, if not our own, as the world’s oil reserves dwindle, transportation costs become exorbitant and out-of-season produce grown in another hemisphere becomes a luxury reserved only for the wealthiest.

It’s a scary prospect, but the folks at NOFA-NY want us to know that transitioning to locavorism doesn’t have to be painful, difficult or intimidating. Like most big jobs, it consists of a whole lot of small, simple steps that can be addressed one at a time. So for the month of September, NOFA is bringing back an annual campaign that it calls the NY Locavore Challenge, aimed at engaging consumers across the state in actively supporting the local organic food movement.

Now in its third year, the Locavore challenge starts with the theory “Vote with your dollar,” and takes it a few steps further by appealing to concerned citizens to participate in a wide variety of events and challenges that support their local economies, encourage organic and sustainable growing practices and propel the movement. Last year NOFA-NY worked with more than 40 partners to help host events, promote eating locally and educate their members or clients on the importance of supporting organic and sustainable farms. In the mid-Hudson region, NOFA’s partners in the Challenge are the Phillies Bridge Farm Project – a well-established Community-Supported Agriculture farm based halfway between New Paltz and Gardiner – as well as Slow Food Hudson Valley/Slow Food CIA, headquartered at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park.

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The aim is for 5,000 people statewide to participate in the Locavore Challenge this year, and NOFA-NY is launching a new, easy-to-use “30 Challenges in 30 Days” calendar on its website at www.nofany.org/30challenges to help guide consumers in exploring the challenge each day during September. The calendar will include daily challenges, recipes, tips and events – and none of them is rocket science. You can become more of a locavore each day by doing something as simple as visiting a farmstand or pick-it-yourself orchard, canning a locally grown vegetable, substituting local honey or maple syrup for sugar in a recipe, planting herbs in pots on your windowsill or writing a letter to your school board advocating for more use of local farm products in school cafeterias.

At the end of the monthlong Challenge, Phillies Bridge Farm will host a special feast called the Locavore Challenge All-Local Cookout, featuring fresh-grilled Hudson Valley produce prepared by chefs and students from the Culinary Institute. The event will take place on Saturday, September 29 from 12 noon to 4 p.m. Live music will be provided by the Shoe String Band. The event will also include a silent auction featuring goods and services from local businesses, benefiting Phillies Bridge’s educational and outreach programs and Slow Food’s advocacy efforts.

Tickets for the Cookout cost $18 for adults, $8 for children ages 7 to 12; children aged 6 and under get in free. There’s also a special package rate of $45 for a family of four, plus $5 for each additional family member. You can reserve tickets online at https://philliesbridge.org. Phillies Bridge Farm is located at 45 Phillies Bridge Road, off Route 208 south of New Paltz.

For more information call (845) 256-9108 or e-mail donna@philliesbridge.org.

Visit www.nofany.org/30challenges any day in September for tips on how to participate in the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York’s third annual NY Locavore Challenge. On Saturday, September 29 from 12 noon to 4 p.m., Phillies Bridge Farm, located at 45 Phillies Bridge Road in New Paltz, will host a Locavore Challenge All-Local Cookout, co-sponsored by Slow Food Hudson Valley/Slow Food CIA, featuring grilled local delicacies prepared by CIA chefs, live music and a silent auction. Admission costs $18 for adults, $8 for children ages 7 to 12, free for children aged 6 and under and $45 for a family of four (plus $5 for each additional). Tickets can be ordered at https://philliesbridge.org.

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