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Andrea’s Eat Local Food Stamp Challenge: Day 1

(EDITOR’S NOTE: North Kohala resident Andrea Dean calls herself a SocioEcoPreneur who partners with communities, businesses and non-profits on initiatives that enhance the island environment, economy and community. She is involved with the North Kohala Eat Locally Grown Campaign and has challenged herself to eat only local foods on a food stamp budget for the month of September 2011.)

So much for all of my excellent “How to Prepare for an Eat Local Challenge” tips that the Big Island Weekly has been publishing.

On Day 0, I initially fell short on two accounts: I did not do enough reconnaissance and did not gather enough staples in advance. I didn’t starve and was able to stay local, but I didn’t have a lot of variety in my diet Thursday.

It was all about sweet potatoes! I had a banana, sweet potatoes and ahi poke for breakfast. And sweet potatoes, strawberries and banana for lunch.

I went to a business mixer Thursday evening. Guess what the locally grown food was on the buffet? You guessed it – sweet potatoes!

I will have you know that I dutifully abstained from the non-local beer and wine. (Must find a free underground mead or wine source!) I came home and steamed up some baby kale. I am now fantasizing about a midnight banana (or two).

Thursday, I took my own advice and did some serious local food shopping. My local food store (Takata’s) in Hawi does carry locally grown food – I was able to buy sweet potatoes, dasheen (Japanese potato), ahi poke and the strawberries. I could also have bought some other veggies-beets, carrots, luau leaf, etc.

Also, I was in Waimea, so I went to KTA , which has played a key role in Hawaii in supporting local farmers and developing the consumer market for locally grown and made products through its Mountain Apple Brand.

I scored some staples: milk, eggs, pumpkin and taro. I also threw in some avo and some mahi mahi for fat and protein. I swung by the health food store and picked up some local organic spinach, kale and bananas.

I also bought Waipio Valley poi, but as I am reviewing the receipt right now, I see that the cashier, who was in the middle of telling a long and dramatic story to her friend while checking out my groceries, forgot to charge me the almost $7 for the poi! Food Stamp budget miracle No. 1!

Money Spent?

$80.13. YIKES!

That is 25 percent of my monthly budget spent in two days. I guess the trick will be making this food last for a week. I am thinking food preservation. Cooking and freezing some of the taro and pumpkin. I may freeze some of the poi for soup later.

Was Local Food More Expensive than Imported?

At Takata’s, the North Kohala grown organic sweet potatoes were 37 cents per pound more expensive than the U.S. grown sweet potatoes. At this point, that does not make a big financial difference to me, I am still quite willing to pay the extra 37 cents for local and organic.

Talk to me in 29 days.

Local organic spinach was $9.75/lb vs. $7.98/pound for the imported spinach. I am fairly sure I could get a better price on greens at the farmers market or directly from my local farmer (which is what I usually do), but they don’t take EBT.

Good news on the pumpkin front, though.

(Photo courtesy of Andrea Dean)

(Photo courtesy of Andrea Dean)

The local pumpkins were 50 cents less per pound than the US squash. Starch for starch – that evens me out on the sweet potato front and puts me ahead.

At KTA, the prices for local food do not seem to be a barrier. I will have to compare some more, but it appears they have managed to get the prices to be comparable (and cheaper in the case of pumpkins) than imported food.

KTA also carries local milk.

OK, time for that midnight blogger banana snack!

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