Belfast Co-op Sponsors March Eat Local Challenge

By Belfast Co-op | Mar 04, 2010

Belfast, Maine — The Belfast Co-op—along with co-sponsors Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, the Belfast Free Library, the Green Sanctuary Committee of the UU Church in Belfast, and WERU Community Radio—invite you to take stock of late winter’s local bounty and join us in our 6th Eat Local Challenge.

Twice a year, during our Eat Local Challenges, the Belfast Co-op collaborates with other community organizations to bring the importance of locally grown food to the forefront. Last November we partnered with Maine Farmland Trust whose mission is to preserve Maine’s rapidly decreasing farmland. This March we are partnering with MOFGA, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, in order to highlight the ecological benefits of small, local & organic farms. MOFGA’s mission is to “…help farmers and gardeners: grow organic food, fiber and other crops; protect the environment; recycle natural resources; increase local food production; support rural communities; and illuminate for consumers the connection between healthful food and environmentally sound farming practices.” To find out more about MOFGA visit their website at http://www.mofga.org/.

For our March Challenge, we encourage your participation in one of three ways: educate yourself on the impact of your food choices on our environment, boost the local economy by spending $15/wk on local food, and celebrate the Eat Local Challenge with local food and entertainment.

On March 9th, Jean English will talk with us on how to get our organic gardens going for the season; her talk will encourage us to not only improve our personal food security by “growing our own” but also provide pointers on how to do so without synthetic and chemical fertilizers or pest control that can have damaging environmental and personal health consequences.

On March 23rd the “Big River Harvest Tour” will be coming to Belfast. Join us for a screening of the short version of “King Corn” and its sequel “Big River” along with a discussion led by Heather Spalding of MOFGA about the connections between agriculture and the health of our environment. Resources are also available throughout the store and on our website to provoke thoughtful contemplation on this topic.

Participants can also challenge themselves to boost our local economy by spending $15 a week on locally-grown foods. Participants of previous Challenges may notice that we’ve upped the ante on participation for this March by $5. All customers who spend $15 on 100% Maine-grown products during a shopping trip will be eligible to enter a raffle for a local foods gift basket valued at $100 and chock full of delicious offerings. In order to encourage participation in the Challenge, the Co-op will be placing a number of qualifying items on sale during the month of March; look for more info about what is local and on-sale by picking up a sales flyer at any one of the front registers. If you are stumped about what to cook with what’s available this time of year, you can visit our recipe board at the end of aisle 2 for at least 15 ideas.

And finally, join us on March 24th for our Eat Local Challenge Celebration. Since our previous late winter Challenge in March 2009, the Co-op has been working to quantify the impact that the growth of the local foods movement is making on our community. We’ve been tracking our weekly sales of 100% Maine-grown products, and, with community input, have conducted a thorough inventory of the necessary elements, both existing and needed, to support a sustainable local foods economy. The celebration will provide us with an opportunity to reflect and measure the substance of what our community has accomplished in previous challenges, and look forward to the new opportunities and avenues for participation.

In addition, along with the traditional local food potluck there will be a Locavore Variety Show. All are welcome to bring a song to share, a poem to read or some other inspiration around local food. We want to encourage you to think outside the box. Just stick with the theme, “local entertainment about locally grown food.”  The celebration will take place from 5pm to 8pm at the UU Church in Belfast and all are welcome to attend. Donations will be accepted to benefit MOFGA.

Look for more information about the Eat Local Challenge at our website as of March 1st, www.belfast.coop. You can also visit our blog for recipes, local food resources and tips and tricks, www.belfast.coop/blog/.

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