1. Be prepared at your local Farmers Market. Have a re-usable shopping bag on hand, along with some cash and sunscreen.
2. Start slowly. If the thought is too overwhelming to eat all local foods for all your meals, try committing to one meal a day. The Long Island Food Challenge offers some great recipes. Try making a meal with local, farm fresh ingredients.
3. Be adventurous. Never liked beets? Well now is the time to try a new recipe. Try local food, eat a vegetable that you never had, meet a farmer at the farm stand, go to an event that you would have never gone to.
4. Set realistic goals. If you are going to be miserable without coffee or tea, then by all means drink your coffee or tea.
5. Plan to spend time cleaning and preparing your food. Yes, lettuce from the farm is dirty and yes, sometimes there are bugs. Use your salad spinner and soak your greens. It does take time to clean and prepare the foods. Be sure to make double batches of recipes (ie: pesto, vinaigrette, washed greens).
6. Attend the Long Island Food Challenge events. There are plenty of events to help you stay on track. You will have the opportunity to meet others who enjoy eating as you do and I bet you will have some fun too.
7. Take the time to taste the food. Make a conscious effort to slow down and enjoy the food you are eating. When you eat something that comes from a few miles away as opposed to a few thousand miles, you will taste the difference. Let your taste buds come alive this summer. Eat slowly, chew slowly and enjoy your freshly prepared dishes.
8. Share your experiences with others via the Long Island Food Challenge Facebook page. Did you have amazing peaches from the Davis Peach Farm? Share it! Did you make the "Braised Fennel" recipe after seeing fennel at the Sayville Farmers Market and loved it? Share it!
9. Feel good about what you are doing. Just think for every meal you eat locally you are helping your local economy, eating more nutritious food, eating seasonally, supporting your local farmer, creating a transportation solution and enjoying really good fresh food.
10. Have fun! Ok…so this is not meant for you to be all stressed out and worry about what to eat all the time. The idea is to enjoy all the great, delicious food Long Island has to offer. If you didn't eat local farm fresh food for lunch then try to eat it for dinner. If you are making a sandwich for lunch make it local by adding local lettuce and a locally grown tomato to it.
(Christine Egan is a Nutritional Health Counselor, graduate of the Institute of Integrated Nutrition and a member of American Academy of Drugless Practitioners. She also organized the Long Island Food Challenge. To contact her, check out her website.)