As part of our member highlights, USEE staff traveled to Tara Poelzing's residence to interview her on her extensive blog about eating local as well as share a delicious local salad! During USEE's eat local week, Tara's blog is especially helpful! Her blog offers recipes and resources for finding local food in Utah.
Tara first became interested in eating locally when her friends told her about an article they read about an eat local challenge. She then decided to do her own 250 mile challenge, where for a month, she ate food that only came from 250 miles or less from her home. What she was most frustrated about during this challenge was that it was so hard to find places that offered local food. She wanted a place where she could go to look up organizations that sold local food without having to run all around town to look for a simple ingredient. This inspired her to start a blog that has a collection of resources for eating locally.
Tara explains that “we have to eat”. We may have a choice about driving or purchasing clothes and other goods, but as humans we need to eat to survive and every time we decide to put something in our bodies IT IS A CHOICE. This is why eating locally is so prominent, because we are faced with this decision multiple times a day and eating locally is something you can do that is both healthy for your body and the environment. So why would you choose anything but the best?
Tara admits that it isn’t always easy to eat locally. She explains that sometimes there are foods that aren’t possible to get locally that one may want or need for a healthy diet. For example, she wants her son to have a healthy, diverse diet, which is hard if she is restricting his diet to only local foods. Tara admits that she has a weakness for coffee, which she does give up during the Eat Local Challenge. She notes that there are also seasonal difficulties like when all of the preserves for the winter are gone that also may make buying non-locally a necessity. This is why she focuses on practicality in her blog. She believes that if people think eating locally is an all or nothing effort that people will not be inclined to try it and that is not what eating locally is about. Tara believes any kind of effort to eat more local food is a step in the right direction. Tara suggests making the move towards a local diet “little by little”. Making a sweeping change isn’t practical for most people and therefore will not last very long. For her, however, as she did the Eat Local Challenge year after year and continuously focuses on buying local when she can, eating local has become integrated into her normal lifestyle. She also notes that eating local is catching on. She, as I’m sure many of you are starting to realize that there is more advertisement for local foods in magazines, newspapers, and a variety of stores and restraunts that are offering local food.
Tara appreciates the continuous networking opportunities and support given by USEE. She also received her Environmental Education Teacher Certification through USEE and explains that she is so greatful to have been given a mentor to guide her through her goals and who understands her work and whom she is still in contact with. In 2009, Tara was recognized by USEE as the Vern A. Fridley Enviornmental Educator of the year. She expresses that this not only made her feel important, but also supported by a group of people who were willing to fight for the beliefs she shares.
Tara is proof that you do not need to be a food scientist or expert to maintain a sustainable diet. Tara has an academic background in Environmental Education, but when it comes to food, she explains it is all on the job learning. She has done her own research on where to find local sources from resources such as edible Wasatch, but she explains many of the resources on her blog were things that she found by taking the time to go into stores and markets and ask around.
Lucilly for us, we have Tara’s blog, which has an extensive list of businesses that carry local food organized by food group on her blog.
Why is it important to eat locally? Look up her top 6 on her blog
9/10/11 Eat Local Challenge (Tomato Sandwich Party with Wasatch Community Gardens 11-2)
8/23/11 Green Drinks, Eat Local Challenge Kick Off
9/14/11 Pasta Making Party with Slow Food Utah 630-830pm
9/17/11 1 week party at the Downtown Farmers Market