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Sustainable Table: Eat Local Challenge

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MEDFORD, Ore. – Finding local produce, meats, and dairy can be a challenge in a busy life. While hundreds participate in “Eat Local Week”, each year, during this time about 100 people take it to the next level.

Augustine Colebrook cooks for a family of seven and is a local business owner. This year, she decided the “Locavore Level” was as high as she could manage, but it’s still a tall order.

“It’s definitely, when you are eating 100% local it’s work. You become in a sense a hunter and gather and you are out there foraging for yourself in some ways,” Augustine explained.

There are four levels in Thrive’s Eat Local Challenge: “The Sampler” commits to just two meals made from ingredients within a 200 mile radius during the 10 day span; “The Taster” eats one local meal a day; “The Locavore” is all local except chocolate, coffee and spices; The “Locavore Supreme” vows to give up those items to be a 100% local consumer.

Foraging through her garden and the farmers market is another locavore level participant, Theresa Bush.

“I have always done the highest level, and this year it seems unsustainable to me personally. I work swing shift, it’s either 2 p.m. – 11 p.m. or 4 a.m. – 1 p.m., so I am here late at night for dinner,” Theresa said.

Despite the non-traditional hours, Theresa doesn’t mind the extra work of bringing dinner each night; for her, it pays off.

It’s not traveling as far, it’s fresher, I know the farmers, usually by first name, so I know how they grow the food. Theresa Bush

Both women and most every person at a coop or farmers market buy local because of where their money goes. To feed five growing kids, Augustine relies on membership to a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture program, as well as buying meat direct from the farmers. She also some well thought-out trips to co-ops and locally owned grocery stores.

“It’s a local company, so the money goes back to your local employees which are our neighbors,” said Augustine.

Augustine and Theresa said they still use some non-local products. In the Colebrook’s stir fry, the teriyaki and soy sauce weren’t from around here, and Theresa is still searching for a favorite snack.

“I haven’t found a local yogurt,” said Bush.

Whatever the challenges, locavores are committed and hoping more will join them.