Welcome to our ongoing project, LJWorld.com/Green. Here you can find tips on how to make your life environmentally friendly and read stories about what others in the community are doing to live a more green lifestyle. Eat local, conserve resources, be green.
On the street
Not really. I just go with whatever they have at Checkers. The price is pretty much the bottom line.
In a season that brings an abundance of squash, potatoes and apples, The Community Mercantile is challenging Lawrencians to get to know their local foods better.
The co-op is proposing a two-week diet where people consume 80 percent of their meals from food that is grown or produced locally. The Merc defines local as within a 200-mile radius of Lawrence.
"We are trying to raise awareness of the benefits of local foods," Merc marketing director David Smith said. "This is a really important issue, especially with food prices going up primarily (because of) transportation costs."
The Merc will have a sign-up sheet for those who want to take on the challenge, which starts Sept. 14 and ends Sept. 27. The store will be one of 70 cooperative groceries nationwide featuring the "Eat Local Challenge."
The Merc, along with other Lawrence groceries, has several local foods on its shelves. In the summer, the produce aisles have locally grown tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant and beans, among other fresh foods. The store also carries bread, meat, cheese, eggs and milk from nearby farms, dairies and bakeries.
The Merc has 600 items on its shelves that fall within the 200-mile radius, Smith said. Those goods are marked with "Miles to the Merc" tags.
"You are not going to starve on a 200-mile diet," Smith said.
While the daily staples of coffee and chocolate aren't grown near Lawrence, Smith said there is plenty of locally roasted coffee beans to be found and a local company makes chocolate.
Eating local is a trend that has gained momentum in the past few years. Books, Web sites and grocery displays have cropped up touting the importance of eating food closer to home.
According to a 2001 study from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, produce travels an average distance of 1,556 miles.
Smith attributes food safety scares, such as the concerns over tainted tomatoes this year, as helping push the movement.