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Andrea’s Eat Local Food Stamp Challenge: Day 18

(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.)

To date I have spent $255.29 out of my $314 food stamp budget.

That means I have only $58 left to eat for 12 more days. That is $5/day. This does not sound good, but may actually be doable since I do have plenty of meat and breadfruit in the freezer, and food in the fridge.

I really blew it Saturday, Sept. 17, when I spent $44 at the health food store on sweet treats. If I hadn’t done that, my food budget would be in much better shape.

Other than trying to stick to a budget, my biggest challenges thus far have been:

Lack of Variety

Since I can only shop at places that take EBT, I can’t shop at my local farmers market or buy direct from local farms. I have been limited primarily to Takata’s food store in Hawi, KTA and Foodland in Waimea.

This past weekend I was in Keauhou, so I shopped at the KTA in Keauhou (which had more variety) and Island Naturals (which was a bad move, due to my own lack of restraint.)

This has been my basic palate: eggs (too many!), smoothies with milk, banana and strawberry, chard, lettuce, papaya, ahi poke (maybe too expensive?), fish, grass fed beef, sweet potato, pumpkin, taro, breadfruit.

There is plenty of variety available if you can buy local at farmers markets, but being limited to all local at the food store does not offer enough choices for a interesting diet.

Survivable, Yes. Interesting, No.

If my experiment was not so extreme, and I was just increasing the amount of local food in my diet, that would be different.

Lack of Time!

I’m always extremely busy, but as the co-director of the Breadfruit Festival that is taking place Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011 (by the way!), I am busier than usual. Preparing local foods takes a good deal of time and preparation.

If I am going to the office for the day – and a long day at that – I need to have enough food with me to last the day. I can’t just go downstairs to the coffee shop at lunch and grab a salad or a sandwich.

This means getting up extra early to prepare and pack food – something that I have not been that good about the last week. As a result, I had many days when I was very hungry.

Again, if this was not an extreme 100% local experiment, I could have supplemented with other foods.

The good news is that I am still alive and kicking – while learning how difficult it would be to try to eat a predominantly local diet on food stamps – unless you were growing your own food, hunting, fishing or gleaning.

There is a lot of free local food out there – but again – you need to time to gather, and you need to know how.

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