Eating Local Food for One Year

One couple's concerns regarding food prompt year-long, eat local project.


| July/August 2009



Kris and Jo Young

Kris and Jo Young at their home.

Jean Picard

Inspired by Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, one Ojai, California, couple decided to commit for one year to only eating food grown or produced within a 100-mile radius of their small southern California town.

Kristofer and Joanne Young had three main reasons for starting the project they call Eat Local One Year: global warming, security of the food supply and supporting the local economy.

“It was very sobering to read that if every person in the country ate just one meal a week of local foods, it would save over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week,” Jo says.

Concerned about recurring outbreaks of food-borne illnesses caused by E. coli and Salmonella, Kris says, “Food is critical. It’s obvious that we shouldn’t put all our eggs in one basket, but that’s what industrialized farming does.”

Never satisfied to give less than their best effort, the Youngs began preparations eight months in advance. Always inspired to draw others to a worthwhile cause, it was only natural that they enlist others for the project.

Their aim was to have 100 core participants. They reached a peak of 43 in September 2008, but that number dropped as people realized that, for various reasons, they weren’t up to the challenge. Ultimately, 21 residents of Ojai and nearby towns took up the challenge, and, on January 1, they embarked on a life-changing, gastronomic adventure.

Dennis Miller
6/24/2009 10:31:06 AM

Yes ma'am, It was difficult but it really wasn't that hard. The difference between "Eat Local for a Year" and what we did is that we were fascinated with the concept of growing for ourselves without an exterior motive; we had drive to keep going without justification. To this day, I have year around stored potatoes, strawberries, apples, pears, tomotoes, beans (green and field), corn (sweet and field), wheat, snow peas, broccoli, and certain herbs kept alive in buckets in the garage, (fresh thyme, oregano, rosemary, and sage throughout winter!) But I am also addicted to out of season fresh fruit and berries from South America. I will eat 1/4 pound of Chilean blueberries at the grocery store and bring the empty containers up to the register... I love life :-)


Jean Teller
6/23/2009 3:48:14 PM

Wow,that was quite an undertaking, Dennis. Congrats on taking a stab at it. I'm not sure I could be that brave or organized. I like going to the local farmers' market, but to grow all that myself? Not in my skill set. :) I think the Eat Local for One Year project is admirable, and it would take a lot of organization, planning and willpower. It sounds like it's a doable project for California - not sure it would be so feasible here in Kansas. Besides, what would I do without my chocolate for an entire year?! LOL


Dennis Miller
6/21/2009 10:30:40 AM

A buddy and myself tried this a number of years back in Ohio. We started after we saw how the growing season was going to go. We did it to simulate early homesteading and nothing else. We weren't survivalists or environmentalists. This was in the early 90's before global warming was invented. Our goal was to grow enough to last till the next growing season which included vegetables, grains, beef, pork, and chicken. Things we couldn't grow we stocked up on; sugar, yeast, coffee beans, peanut butter, cooking oil, etc. The most difficult item was citrus. Storage was quite an issue. Trying to make the fresh fruit last was a major challenge and failure. We ended up canning allot of apples and pears earlier than we had planned... We also realized that we were spending and incredible amount of time being fine young agrarians. Any free time we had before was taken up by preparing meals, checking storage for rot and pest, and preserving food that was about to spoil. We learned quite a lesson that year. We also lost allot of weight. I am most extremely thankful for America's ability to ship fresh produce from South America during the off season. I can't imagine what non-farming folks would do without our inexpensive transportation and shipping lines.






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