I challenge you to a broccoli! And other local foods.

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Here’s one to make your mouth happy. The PEC, your ever-reliable champions for local food and farmers, is running an Eat Local Challenge, which is really just a good excuse to spend three weeks eating better than you usually do. Details are here; the challenge runs September 21-October 11 and there are prizes and scorecards and so forth, as with any proper contest.

But here’s the heart of the matter. If you usually get a hamburger for lunch, this is your chance to try a cup of soup made with local turnips instead. If dinner out for you normally entails a visit to an all-you-can-eat buffet where every morsel of food in the building came in on a Sysco truck, this is your chance to go somewhere where you can order a locally-produced pork chop. And if you normally cook with produce grown in California, this is when you venture to the farmers’ market and buy a bunch of kale from the person who grew it.

Too expensive, you say? As has often been pointed out, the "true cost" of food goes well beyond the sticker on the grocery-store shelf or the price listed on the restaurant menu. For us consumers, personally, the cost of the food we eat shows up in our tax bills, our health insurance premiums and the state of our own bodies. That’s part of what’s so important about the locavore movement: It asks us to take more responsibility for how our food choices affect us and our community and our country and, not to be grandiose about it, our world.

All that, in one local event! Anyone planning on taking the challenge? Got a local food you’re itching to try? (I, for one, am curious about chicory greens…).

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