California Love: Eating Locally


Renowned preservationist John Muir once wrote of California:

“We in that Sunshine State where the bomb-ass hemp be
A state where you’ll never find the dance floor empty
And pimps be, on a mission for them greens
Lean mean money makin’ machines servin’ fiends”

It’s a beautiful passage.  I like to think Muir was waxing poetic about California’s natural bounty and vegetation, where he lovingly refers to California farms as “dance floors”, hard working farmers as “pimps” selling their crops, or “greens”, to local consumers otherwise known as “fiends.”

It’s a beautiful notion really, buying locally grown foods and supporting local farmers.

[Record screeching to a stop]

What?  John Muir didn’t write those beautiful words?  Are you serious? Oh, they were words uttered by a doctor?  Dr. Dre?  On a Tupac track?  You have got to be kidding me! Shit.  I KNOW NOTHING OF CALIFORNIA HISTORY!  I am ashamed of myself.

OK, so maybe Dre and Pac weren’t talking about buying spinach or arugula from a local farmer per se, but, the notion is still the same.  Buying and eating local is good!  Eating local helps the local economy and keeps local farmers in business.  Eating local is environmentally friendly as it cuts down on pollution resulting from shipping goods from miles away.  You can find other reasons for eating locally here.

And that is why I decided to take the Penny-Wise Eat Local Challenge this week. The purpose of this challenge is to see if eating locally is economically feasible for the average American.  I knew this challenge wouldn’t be easy.  This is, after all, a Filipino food blog.  It’s not like there are any Patis producers in California, let alone the U.S., so I knew I couldn’t go completely local.  Nonetheless, I wanted to give it a go as I do think eating local is an endeavor worth trying.

So what’s does this all mean?  I’ll answer the following questions from the Eat Local Challenge to explain things a bit further:

What’s your definition of local for this challenge?
I tried to stick to a 100-mile radius from where I live, attempting to eat only food that is grown and raised within a 100-mile radius from the Inland Empire (The Burnt Lumpia Worldwide Headquarters).  My wife and I went to the Claremont Farmer’s Market on Sunday to buy some produce, and although we picked up a few things, I knew it wasn’t enough to sustain us for the week.  We also went to Henry’s to pick up the rest of our groceries for the week, and a majority of these things were from outside my 100-mile radius. A 100-mile radius isn’t exactly from “Diego to the Bay” but more like from Diego to Santa Barbara for us.

I tried to stick to these general guidelines:
Buy food within my 100-mile radius
If outside this radius, at least in California
If outside California, at least organic

You can see a map of where my food was grown here.
You can find your own 100-mile radius here.

What exemptions will you claim?
Many.  I can already tell you that without some kind of great sacrifice, eating 100% locally grown food for me and my wife would be nearly impossible.  Besides the patis I mentioned above, there’s soy sauce, there’s coffee, there’s pasta, there’s a lot of other foods that I couldn’t source locally.  I suck at this.

Will you be making any changes to our budget goals?
According to the Eat Local Challenge website, the average weekly grocery budget for a family of two wage earners is $144.  My wife and I spent just under $100 dollars at the Farmer’s Market and at Henry’s combined, but that dollar amount will probably grow as the week goes on.

Do you have any additional personal goals for the week?
Really, my main goal in taking this challenge is to just learn about eating locally.  Since this is my first time really trying this, I’m not too concerned that I failed miserably at eating 100% local food, I think that would be too lofty a goal, at least for now.  On the brighter side of things, I’m learning about the best meat and poultry to eat, and I’m gaining a greater appreciation of what’s available to me just in California.  West Coast!

I will blog later in the week about some of the meals I will prepare from my local bounty.

“From Oakland to Sac-town
The Bay Area and back down
Cali is where they put they mack down
Give me love!”

  • Wandering Chopsticks April 24, 2007, 9:37 am

    I don’t know about that challenge, but I do shop regularly at farmers’ markets in an effort to eat healthier. BTW, if you hit the Claremont farmers’ market after 1 p.m. when it’s almost closing time, the farmers start selling veggies 3 for $1 so they don’t have to lug it back home. Selection is limited though. It was purely by chance that I found that out. Did you try the Kiwiberry then? And I looove Henry’s. I buy my spices in bulk from there.
    Fava beans are in season! I made fava bean dip and salad, as well as munching on them plain. Bought a bag of cucumbers and made a nice vinegary cucumber salad. Now I gotta figure out what to do with my golden beets.

  • Jeremy Jensen April 24, 2007, 1:55 pm

    When I lived in Santa Barbara (in your 100-mile radius) I would often cruise their farmer’s market with delight. Too bad I no longer live there. Is there a web site I can log on to see if there is a farmer’s market somewhere near Anaheim where I reside?

  • Burnt Lumpia April 24, 2007, 8:03 pm

    WC, I know of the Kiwiberry in Claremont, but haven’t tried it yet. I’m saving myself for the Pinkberry that is supposed to open soon at Victoria Gardens. And I saw piles and piles of fava beans at the farmer’s market, but besides liver and a nice chianti, I wouldn’t know what to do with them.
    Jeremy, you can find your nearest farmer’s market at

  • Wandering Chopsticks April 26, 2007, 9:33 am

    Well, my recipes don’t call for you to kill a census taker just for the liver. 😛
    I have no idea how to choose fava beans. I think they’re pretty hardy b/c of those double layers of shelling. Just avoid ones with any black or brown spots that show bruising. And feel along the pods to make sure the beans are nice and big. You wouldn’t want a deceptively big pod, and once you open it it, the bean is tiny and shriveled. Oh man, if you had a dirty mind, those last two sentences don’t sound so good…

  • TeddyKim April 26, 2007, 10:54 am

    Hi, found your blog through the ELC website. Hilarious stuff. I never thought of west coast rap in relation to eating locally. I like the cut of your jib.

  • Burnt Lumpia April 27, 2007, 7:53 am

    WC, thanks for the fava bean pointers, I’ll put them to good use soon.
    Teddy, I like the cut of your jib as well sir. Good day. I said good day!

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