What are you learning as you try to eat 50% local this week?

Griff Wigley

Breakfast Last week I blogged about Just Food Co-op’s Winter Eat Local Challenge (“Eat 50 % of your food from the five state area for seven days”) and yesterday I signed the poster at the store.

For breakfast this morning, I had (left photo) Malt-O-Meal hot cereal (Northfield), sweetened with Anderson’s Pure Maple Syrup (Cumberland, WI), and a small glass of Cedar Farm Summit milk (New Prague). Those were the local items. Non-local items mixed into my cereal: Hain Sea Salt and Olivio Spread.  So I’d give myself a 90% local rating on that meal.  The only thing I deliberately did different than normal was to use syrup instead of brown sugar, as I wasn’t sure whether the sugar and molasses in the brown sugar (Cub Foods store brand) were local or not.

So those of you trying this (officially or unofficially), what are you learning this week about eating local?


  1. Griff Wigley said:

    Last night’s dinner of beef and bean tostadas was probably less than 50% local. Cheese, hamburger, and sour cream were local but tortillas, onions, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, guacamole, and salsa were not.

    Today’s breakfast was same as yesterday’s, only it was Co-op oatmeal instead of Malt-O-Meal.

    Anyone know where the Co-op oatmeal comes from?

    And for that matter, anyone know where the wheat farina and barley used in Malt-O-Meal’s hot cereal comes from?

    March 9, 2009
  2. john george said:

    Griff- You were probably wise to substitute the syrup. There has been a lot of cane raised around NF this last year, but I don’t think any of it could be made into sugar. There are a lot of sugar beets grown & processed in the Red River valley, so if the sugar was Crystal brand, it was most likely produced there.

    March 9, 2009
  3. Peter Millin said:


    Since Malt-O Meals position in the market is to be a low cost alternatives to brands I think they are getting the farina, barley, wheat and corn from wherever they can get it the cheapest.

    March 10, 2009
  4. Joey Robison said:

    Hi Griff,

    And congrats on taking the Winter Eat Local Challenge! Looks like your meal is a prime candidate for a local makeover. Looking at your non-local ingredients, here are a few changes you could make to your meal to hi 50% local (or more).

    Tortillas: Try Fat Flush tortillas. I know, awful name. But they are made by French Meadow in MPLS, and they are made of sprouted grains, which gives them a delicious nutty flavor.
    Onions: We just got locally-grown yellow onions in today, and they look beautiful!
    Pickles: In the produce cooler you’ll find Angelica’s Gardens Fridge Pickles (they also make a sauerkraut) made in Wisconsin.
    Lettuce: Labore Farms does hydroponic lettuce YEAR ROUND in Faribault- it’s available at Just Food.
    Salsa: Two favorite local salsas are Salsa Lisa and Firehouse, both made in Minnesota and available in the dairy cooler (by the hummus).

    And there you go! That makes your meal 80% local. Nice work!

    There are a couple of oatmeals in the Co-op’s bulk section, but if you pick the Whole Grain Milling Company one it is grown in Welcome, MN.

    I’m not sure about where Malt-O-Meal gets their grains, but at Just Food we’d consider that a locally produced food. Basically this means that ingredients (local or not) combined into a new product by local artisans or producers are considered local. Gotta support our local producers as well as farmers!

    March 10, 2009
  5. john george said:

    Joey- You piqued my curiosity, so I read a bunch of labels on the food products I buy. There were more of them based and produced in the 5 state region than I thought. Thanks for raising my awareness.

    March 11, 2009
  6. Joey Robison said:

    George, glad you checked! It is surprising how many local foods are available. One of the goals of the Eat Local Challenge is to get all of us looking at the origins of our foods. That doesn’t mean we’ll always choose local, or that we won’t eat oranges, avocados or olive oil (I’m not sure how I’d live without avocados and olive oil!). But we can make informed decisions if we get in the habit of paying attention to our food sources.

    Griff, how did you do on the Winter Eat Local Challenge? Was it easy or hard? Are you glad you took it? Did you discover any new products you liked? Will you take the fall Eat Local Challenge this year?

    March 13, 2009

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