Aspen woman aims to eat like a locavore for 40 days
Betsy Fifield likes a good challenge, especially one that involves eating.
Fifield is one of three women taking the Aspen Locavore Challenge — a quest to rely exclusively on locally sourced foods for 40 days. They started Monday and will continue through Sept. 30. Friends and supporters may join them for portions of the experiment.
They not only want to see if they can find enough food from the Roaring Fork Valley and immediate environs to sustain them but also if it can be done without breaking their budgets.
Fifield said she feels like she did a good job eating organic foods in the past, relying on Whole Foods and other grocery stores as well as farmers’ markets. But then she learned that Colorado ranked only 35th among U.S. states for eating locally sourced foods, and she took a closer look at her patterns. She realized she did a poor job of supporting local farmers and growers. A challenge was born.
Candace Cross and Meredith Carroll, an Aspen Times columnist, joined her. (Carroll and her family are part-time participants.)
Finding local sources
On a sunny afternoon Wednesday, Fifield surveyed the bounty of vegetables, greens and edible flowers growing in a plot at the Aspen Community Garden she shares with other folks. She acknowledged she knew little about vegetable gardening despite growing up in Wisconsin. She is relying on Eric Baumheier of High Mountain Gardeners for guidance and on how she can contribute to the work.
Their efforts are paying off. She harvested a handful of carrots and onions that day. Tomatoes and cucumbers are coming along nicely. Kale and salad greens have been bountiful.
“I think this will really help with the cost,” Fifield said of the harvest.
She went to the Aspen Saturday Market two days before the challenge started and purchased a significant haul to fill her pantry. She’s also signed on for a share in a Community Supported Agriculture program at Sustainable Settings in the Crystal Valley, 5 miles south of Carbondale. She will receive a weekly shipment of greens and veggies. She also bought into the program at Sustainable Settings that yields fresh dairy products.
She is buying roaster chickens from Rock Bottom Ranch, owned and operated by the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies.
At this point, she’s intending to rely on the Roaring Fork Valley as much as possible for her supply of locally sourced foods as well as the Crystal Valley. Fifield and her friends aim to keep it hyper-local.
She’s even replaced her Stoli Vodka with a supply from the Marble Distillery in Carbondale.
Adjusting her habits
Fifield said adjusting her diet has required adjustments to her daily routine. Her diet was heavily centered on fish before. It’s difficult to buy locally sourced fish, so she’s going without.
She had to eliminate grains and sugars. She wouldn’t give up coffee, but chose some that is processed here. Meals are based on the ingredients available rather than the dish desired.
She can no longer have an avocado in her salad, run to Starbuck’s for a cup of joe, reach for a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup for a snack or indulge in popcorn at the movie theater.
“My daily habits are changing,” Fifield said.
She’s also prepared to join friends for drinks but politely declines dinner when invited out, unless she discusses the menu with them in advance. Fortunately, she said, some friends are aware of her challenge and have specifically said they will make meals entirely from local food sources.
She also has planned to play sleuth when going out to restaurants, asking questions about where food is sourced from.
Fifield and her colleagues are taking meticulous notes about their experiences and sharing what they learn via a blog at http://www.aspenlocavore.com. The website has photos, blogs of their experiences and lots of resources for people wanting to learn more.
They detailed the investments Fifield and Cross made to stock their pantries. They go through their meals and provide information on the local companies and sources they relied on. One particularly entertaining entry was from Betsy’s Day 2 meals. One of her snacks was a “foraged apple picked on Catherine Store Road.”
As the 40 days unfolds, followers will get a better feel for the effort it takes to hunt down locally sourced foods and the expense.
Fifield said time and cost are barriers for a lot of people going on a local diet.“
We’re little guinea pigs,” she said.
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