Local Eating – The Coffee Connection

Posted on May 3, 2011 by Deborah

graphic from EatLocal.net

A few weeks ago I posted here on The Greenists site about my plan to take the 100 Mile Diet Challenge in July 2011. I thought it would be a breeze. After all, I live in a rural area with a fine farmers market, I grow my own veggies and raise chickens, and several small farms in my area offer CSAs. I was sure that the only thing on my Exception List would be coffee, that all-important part of a well-balanced meal.

This post is my confession of ignorance.Vegetables are good, of course. No problem there. But when I started thinking about details, I realized that I’d need more than a tomato to get me through July. Bread, for instance. Which requires exotic ingredients like flour and salt. How about some sort of oil? Being a vegetarian, lard doesn’t appeal to me.

In the past couple of months I’ve frantically searched for local sources of butter, skim milk, herbal teas, and –quite frankly– anything else that I can’t grow in my own yard. I’d dreamed of being the perfect locavore while maintaining my usual diet. For a few days, I figuratively kicked myself in the bum several times for sharing my plan publicly on my blog, because a promise made to loyal readers is a promise that can’t be retracted.

True, my eyes have been opened to the impossibility of being totally food-self-reliant. I’m excited about all the local farms and products I have found. The trouble is that, in order to be fully engaged in this experiment, I’ll have to make changes.

As in coffee. As in taking it off my exception list. Once reality settled upon me like a heavy dark blanket (and if you think that’s being overly-dramatic, you aren’t a real coffee drinker), I took a deep breath and started the process of weaning myself from heavenly caffeine.

In March, I drank no coffee after lunch. In April, I drank no coffee after breakfast. In May and on through the end of July, I will drink no coffee.

In my previous post on local eating, I encouraged you to think about joining me in the 100 Mile Diet Challenge for a month, a week, a day, or even one meal. This time I’m, well, pleading with you to do that. I need a support group, but unfortunately we can’t get together in the same room and eat cookies and drink coffee.

Please let me know you’re out there, okay? There is strength in numbers (I like strength in my coffee, too), so I know I can make it through this with your support.

Let me know how far you’d go to stick to a local diet. Would you give up chocolate, Earl Grey, or some other soul-soothing food? If you could have only ONE thing on your Exception list, what would that be?

Just leave a comment. I’ll be here. Waiting. Not drinking coffee.




  1. That is real dedication! It would be tough for me to give up coffee. I love it so.

    I’m sure the realities of what you can eat when you’re a true locavore catch up to you really quickly. Just goes to show how reliant we’ve become on trucking things in from faraway places.

    May 3rd, 2011 at 9:59 am
    Comment by Courtney
  2. I would love to, but I’ve tried to give up coffee before and just could not function. My work schedule bounces back and forth between mornings and nights, and the caffeine keeps me sane. I completely commend you for doing it though.

    My fiance and I are signing up for a CSA for the first time, so we are at least taking steps toward becoming at least quasi-locavores.

    May 3rd, 2011 at 10:07 am
    Comment by The Modern Gal
  3. Courtney, I have to admit that I’m getting more and more excited about July. Despite the lack of coffee. Even more than that, I’m excited about the local food sources I’ve discovered that I wouldn’t have known about without this Challenge. I’m meeting the people who produce food, and they are wonderful! Definitely makes me feel that we are a community.

    May 3rd, 2011 at 10:32 am
    Comment by Deborah
  4. Modern Gal, I didn’t think I’d function without coffee, either, and I’ll be glad when that part of the Challenge is over with. (Of course, you could put coffee on your exception list, if you want to try this. I could have done that, too, but I’m being obsessive.)

    The oddest thing has come of it — I’ve turned into a freakin’ MORNING person! Largely because I fall asleep on the couch by 9 pm.

    May 3rd, 2011 at 10:33 am
    Comment by Deborah
  5. I applaud you for starting the legwork early and really looking into what it will take to be successful BEFORE actually starting the challenge. We take so much for granted. I could not give up fast or canned or frozen food. There’s at least one night a week where I don’t leave the office until 7:30 or 8:00 and if I had to face going home and taking time to make food that wasn’t from a drive-thru, freezer bag or can I would cry.

    May 3rd, 2011 at 10:44 am
    Comment by Julie
  6. This won’t help you this year, but perhaps in the future. During WWII, and of course in the pioneering days, people grew chicory and used chicory root as a coffee substitute. It has pretty purple flowers too. You may be able to plant some and harvest/roast for your coffee needs. Of course it’s caffeine free, so it’s not a complete substitute, but it will get you a roasted coffee-ish flavor for a cuppa joe in the morning.

    This is definitely not an experiment I could try, and if I did I’d probably take a hard look into the lives of people who actually do live this way (medieval peasants? Andean natives?) and determine what their base diet is and how it is shaped by what grows in their area. Then again, I’m a history geek. :) I’ll just settle for increasing my locavore percentage this year. I wish you good luck though!

    May 3rd, 2011 at 10:45 am
    Comment by Marie @ Awakeatheart
  7. Julie, I cleverly planned this for the month after I retire from the day job. I’m afraid of microwaves and too lazy to build a good lunch every morning, so I usually eat a packet of peanut butter crackers at my desk.

    May 3rd, 2011 at 11:28 am
    Comment by Deborah
  8. Marie, Chicory would be good. It grows wild in the next county east of me, but I haven’t tried stopping on the side of the road to harvest it. I have tried planting it in past years, but it never takes. Right now I’m hoping the farmers market in the nearest big city will have a vendor selling locally grown herb tea blends or — wouldn’t it be wonderful?!– even chicory.

    Increasing your local food intake is a brilliant idea. It matters. It helps. Something I suggested in the earlier article is writing out a menu for a day or a week, using only food that you could find locally. This means listing each ingredient, too. I think it will work just as effectively as actually taking the challenge to help you learn about local sources.

    May 3rd, 2011 at 11:32 am
    Comment by Deborah
  9. A while back — a year or two I think — I wrote a post about the things one WON’T give up to green the planet. I was surprised by my own list of foods: avocados, tea, fancy cheese.

    Good for you!

    May 3rd, 2011 at 12:35 pm
    Comment by Howling Hill
  10. This is a fascinating topic, and good on you for giving it a go!

    Salt. I’m pretty sure nobody produces salt within 100 miles of here, not to mention a bunch of other spices. I guess that’s why the search for spices was one of the motivations for some of the early explorers. Flavor is good.

    I will definitely plan a 100-mile meal. It seems easy in light of your undertaking, but I think I’ll start small. And maybe that can grow into a day, and a week, and… we’ll see. I’ll start with a meal. But not tonight, because I just baked some bread.

    May 3rd, 2011 at 3:43 pm
    Comment by mickey
  11. Howling Hill, I don’t blame you for refusing to give up fancy cheese. While coffee seems to be the big deal for me right now, I wonder how I’m going to handle the limited cheese options in July.

    But honestly, if you only have those three things on your Exception List, you’d still do well in the Local Eating Challenge!

    May 4th, 2011 at 10:22 am
    Comment by Deborah
  12. Wolf and I eat relatively local. What I mean by that is we get our winter CSA share and plan meals around it though we still shop at the grocery store each week. Also, we buy pork from two different farmers in our area and the same with rabbit. Chicken isn’t local though. =(

    In our area we have Local Foods Plymouth (http://www.localfoodsplymouth.org/) where local dairy products are available…I think year round. But I can’t get to Plymouth on Thursdays and neither can Wolf. I miss the local breads, meats, and cheeses!

    May 4th, 2011 at 10:27 am
    Comment by Howling Hill
  13. HH, that’s fantastic, and a way of eating that I hope will evolve from my July adventure. It really is important for our health to eat fresh food (not food that’s been trucked a million miles) and for our emotional health to connect to local community. You’re an inspiration!

    May 5th, 2011 at 4:24 pm
    Comment by Deborah
  14. Fortunately, they grow coffee not far from where we live. However, the one thing that I’d have a hard time giving up is extra virgin olive oil. It’s what I’d spend all of my petroleum dollars on. I really feel for those of you who have given up coffee! So many flavinoids, such great taste!

    May 6th, 2011 at 4:49 am
    Comment by Cindy
  15. I’ve tried eating locally before and had a similar revelation. I’m allergic to milk and live in one of the best cheese areas in the world, so all the local organic milk and cheeses might as well not exist for me. I couldn’t give up my soymilk or coffee/tea. I also couldn’t give up rice (wheat is local, but I’m allergic to that to :( ), peppers, spices, or dried beans.

    When I tried living locally it was in winter. I basically just ate potatoes and collards for four days straight before quitting from feeling terrible.

    May 26th, 2011 at 2:05 pm
    Comment by Elly

Leave a comment

Tip of the Day

If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It


According to Real Simple, if every American made an effort to launder less — cutting out just one load of laundry a week per household — we’d save enough water to fill seven million swimming pools each year.

So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings.

  • Stay-ad

    Support This Site