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September declared Eat Local Month

Sep 4th, 2011 | Category: Features, Food

The month of September marks the first Eat Local Month in Whatcom County, a new campaign launched by Sustainable Connections’ Food & Farming Program. Organized in relation to a new Eat Local First initiative of Sustainable Connections, the month-long celebration will feature events like featured restaurants that support local farmers, a farm tour, book events, and others.

Sustainable Connections’ Food and Farming Program Director Laura Ridenour (left) with Whatcom County Executive Pete Kremen (middle) and CIty of Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike at the proclamation made at the Bellingham Farmers Market on Sept. 3, declaring September Eat Local Month. PHOTO BY CYNTHIA ST. CLAIR

Organizers say the new Eat Local First campaign is a year-round way to connect farmers with more local market support and residents (the eaters) with more local food at the places they buy it most, including grocery stores, restaurants and farmers markets.

“We wanted a chance to highlight the community of businesses and non-profit partners who do so much to support local farmers, and to put on one month-long bash to get more people connected, excited and inspired to eat food grown and raised locally all year long,” said Laura Ridenour, Sustainable Connections’ Food & Farming manager, via press release. “Seasonal, nutritious and delicious locally produced food is in abundance at the height of summer,” Ridenour said.  “It’s the perfect time to celebrate the farmers, fishers, ranchers, food entrepreneurs and cooks who work so hard to bring us this goodness, in all kinds of weather year-round.”

In September, 14 restaurants in Bellingham and Whatcom County will feature specials and menus of locally sourced ingredients, with other events slated throughout the month. Among them:

• Sept. 4-10: Participating restaurants are North Fork Brewery and Beer Shrine, Pizza’zza, and Avenue Bread.

• Sept. 9: Author Amy Pennington discusses Apartment Gardening at Village Books, 7 p.m.

• Sept. 10: 4th Annual Whatcom County Farm Tour (see page 21).

• Sept. 11-17: Participating restaurants are The Table by Bellingham Pasta Company and Old World Deli.

• Sept. 12: Author Frances Moore Lappé will discuss her book Ecomind. Tickets for a 5 p.m. reception are $20. A 7 p.m. book talk and signing is free.

• Sept. 15: Incognito Dinner by Ciao Thyme in the Kitchen, 6 p.m.

• Sept. 17:  One Potato, Two Potato: Potato Digging and Cooking Party with Common Threads Farm, 2 to 4 p.m.

• Sept. 17: Eat Local First BBQ & festivities at the Bellingham Co-op (Cordata location) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• Sept. 18-24: Participating restaurants are Chuckanut Brewery & Kitchen, The Temple Bar, Pure Bliss Desserts and Brandywine Kitchen.

• Sept 22: Incognito Dinner with Ciao Thyme in the Kitchen, 6 p.m.

• Sept. 25- Oct. 1: Participating restaurants are Old Town Café, Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro, The Fountain Bistro, and Prospect Street Café.

• Sept. 25: Garden to Garden Community Bike Tour with Common Threads Farm, 1 p.m.

As for the Eat Local initiative, a new Eat Local First label has hit local markets and other stores.  The Eat Local First label will signify that an item has at least 50 percent locally sourced agricultural ingredients – from farmers in areas surrounding Whatcom County, including Skagit, Island, San Juan, and Okanogan counties.

Gretchen Woody of Spring Frog Farm at Holistic Homestead, with 1,000 new Eat Local First twist ties for her produce. COURTESY PHOTO

Partners in the campaign include farmers and the local restaurants, retailers, and food artisans who commit to tracking their food budgets, challenges buyers to purchasing more local food or ingredients from farmers, and to serving it to the public with the Eat Local First label.

“Our goal is to motivate people to buy more nutritious locally raised, caught and grown food, and to promote the farmers who grow it, and the stores, restaurants and farmers markets that sell it,” Ridenour said.

The new campaign aims to increase the local purchases by residents, with 10 percent of their food budget being locally sourced. The program is funded in part with multi-year grants from the Sustainable Whatcom Fund of the Whatcom Community Foundation and the WSDA Specialty Crops Block Grant.

September’s events also include a “Local Foods in Action Photo Contest.” Residents can shoot local foods photos or video and submit to ealocalfirst@sconnect.org or the campaign’s Facebook page.

For more information, visit sconnect.org or eatlocalfirst.org.

–Grow Northwest

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