Home to one of the world's great estuaries and blessed with year-round growing seasons, it's always been easier to source local provisions here in south Louisiana than some other places.
Still, building a diet completely on foods produced nearby is not easy. But those are the marching orders for people undertaking the second-annual Eat Local Challenge, which begins next week and asks participants to eat foods solely from within a 200-mile radius of New Orleans during the month of June.
They will get plenty of help from the local foods enthusiasts behind the Eat Local Challenge. Participants pay a $25 registration fee and get a starter kit with a local food products resource guide, a 10 percent discount on locally grown products at the Hollygrove Market & Farm, access to the Eat Local Challenge online recipe forum and invitations to official events. On the Eat Local Challenge website, there are listings for 14 weekly farmers markets in the region, a local planting guide to grow your own produce and resources for kids.
Living up to the spirit of the challenge is strictly an honor system proposition, but organizers have devised different levels of rigor for people to help keep themselves honest. These include "ultrastrict," which is just as it sounds; "strict," which allows for chocolate, coffee and, say, the chardonnay grape; and "lenient," which grants more non-local splurging.
Participants don't have to rely entirely on home cooking either. More than a dozen New Orleans restaurants have promised to offer at least one Eat Local Challenge-compliant dish on their menus in June.
Events include a kickoff party Thursday, May 31, on the rooftop of the downtown Rouses Market (701 Baronne St.). The party goes from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and features all-local mojitos, Louisiana wines and Eat Local Challenge starter kits to bring home. Visit www.nolalocavore.org for details.