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The Green Life: Trendsetter

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March 02, 2007


Sarah Alexander, age 26
Local-food connoisseur

When Sarah Alexander found out that food travels an average of 1,500 to 2,000 miles to reach Americans' plates, it gave her something to chew on. Wanting to do her part to reduce fossil-fuel consumption, Alexander and six friends created--and completed--the Local Food Challenge. For one year, they ate only items grown or produced within a 250-mile radius of their Minnesota homes.

Q: What was the hardest thing about the challenge? Did you ever cheat?

A: When I traveled, I had to take all my food with me; once, I ran out and had to eat at a Thai restaurant. But most of the year, it was no problem--and fresh, local foods taste delicious.

Q: How did you get through the winter?

A: We preserved a lot of food in advance, so we had canned and frozen fruit to eat year-round. We had tons of grains, soup, and some local meat. I was surprised by how well we ate.

Q: Were there any foods that were impossible to get locally?

A: Throughout history, every culture has had "trade items." Following that model, we listed a few exceptions: salt, oil, wine, coffee, and tea. And chocolate! --interview by Orli Cotel

(Photograph by Ken Frick)

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Want to know more about eating locally? Listen to Orli Cotel's interview with Sarah Alexander on Sierra Club Radio. Meet some "locavores" in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read more about the benefits of local food. Find out what foods are in season now and which ones you can buy near you. And then join people all over the world on a 100-mile diet.


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