The fourth annual New Orleans Eat Local Challenge begins June 1, and registration for the monthlong event — which challenges participants to eat food that has been raised, grown or caught within 200 miles of the city — opens April 1.
The challenge aims to promote sustainable, healthy communities and support local farmers and fishermen. Throughout June, event organizers will host several workshops, markets and contests, including a NOLA Locavore Market on June 14 featuring local produce and seafood, as well as locally brewed and distilled booze and local meat. In recent years, the availability of local meat has expanded local offerings for carnivores. Local meats that meet the challenge requirements include cuts from Chappapeela Farms in Amite (available at Rouses Markets, citywide) beef from Gonsoulin Land & Cattle in New Iberia (available at Cleaver & Co., 3917 Baronne St.) and beef and lamb from Two Run Farm in Vaughn, Miss., as well as cuts from Crescent City Farmers Market (www.crescentcityfarmersmarket.org) vendors Bill Ryals and Justin Pitts.
"People think 'farmers market' and think vegetables and maybe eggs and milk," says Market Umbrella (the organization behind Crescent City Farmers Markets) market manager Elisa Munoz. "There's chicken, pork, lamb. ... There are more local foods on your plate, not just side items."
Munoz says farmers markets in the area are "perfect to highlight the foods you can eat" during the challenge. Crescent City Farmers Markets also offer recipe ideas and vendor information. "We are here to help be a guide and resource," she says.
Cooking with oil may be difficult for some participants, as olive oil is off the table, but local butter is available, as well as pecan oil, which Munoz says has a warm, deep flavor. "But it's not like cooking a pecan," she says. "I'm addicted to it."
Eat Local Challenge events include "Gluten Free in the City" and "Beekeeping for Beginners," as well as an urban farm bike tour, a foraging class, restaurant crawls, cheese making and other workshops. Participants can choose between four "levels" of local eating commitments. The $25 registration fee includes admission to a kickoff party May 31, a finale party June 29 and free or discounted participation in all events, workshops and tours, as well as a T-shirt and tote, access to an online forum, a 10 percent discount on local produce at Hollygrove Market & Farm, (8301 Olive St.; www.hollygrovemarket.com) and coupons to local businesses.
Participants can register at www.nolalocavore.org or at Crescent City Farmers Markets.