Eating,  Other Writings

The Dark Days Challenge

Over the past few months, there’s been talk about where Minnesota Locavore is headed, how things could/should be different, what was the best part of the past 6 months, how to know what’s really important to be writing about, etc. Some good, some bad, but all related to a conversation that keeps coming up. Over and over I’ve had friends and readers tell me: “I read the blog all the time. Your posts are great and I love the pictures. But honestly, I wouldn’t cook anything you make. The food is just too weird.”




(longer pause)

I should probably fix that, huh?

Since then I’ve tried to step back and re-evaluate why I’ve poured 6 months of time and energy into writing recipes, editing photos, and figuring out what the heck HTML stands for. All those days when I came home exhausted from a full day of work only to have a full night of blogging ahead.  I even set-aside my strong nauseating distaste and started tweeting. Why? Because I believe in local food and think everyone else should too. 

Yes.  When stacked against my friends, family, and the rest of America what the kitchen partner and I eat is really weird. We shop at farmers’ markets and have a freezer in the garage.  We can our own jam and we don’t drink soda. But if I know anything about first-grade playground rules: Weird doesn’t always mean bad.  It’s just weird.  And you shouldn’t tease the weird kid until you’ve tried being weird yourself. For all the doubters I’ve talked to recently here’s my proposition.  Before you write off local food, be weird with me.

Beginning November 27, I’ll be participating in the 5th Annual Dark Days Challenge, sponsored by Urban Hennery and Not Dabbling in Normal.  It’s a locavore eating challenge (prepare one 100% local meal per week, each week until March 31, 2012) designed to get us through the toughest winter months. If you can eat local in the Dark Days, the rest of the year will seem like a culinary cakewalk. Not Dabbling posts weekly recaps of the challenge including recipes, themes, giveaways, and lots of opportunities for kvetching about how all you really want is mac n’ cheese and marshmallows.  If your interested in registering for the challenge, find the info here.

I have big plans here at Minnesota Locavore for Dark Days posts, including challenging some the doubters above to join in. This includes kitchen take-overs for the doubting friends I mentioned earlier, and exploring the menus of some more seasoned locavores. If your interested in playing a part, to “be weird with me” and give local food a try, comment to this post and we’ll be in touch.

Happy local eating!


  • Annie

    I would just like to say that I do cook from your recipes, and they are great! I do not think your food is weird. 🙂 It’s great what you’re doing – it’s inspiring to those of us, like me, trying to eat local foods more consistently.

  • a and s

    This evening as we are making yet a third batch of sauerkraut this fall we are more sure than ever the need for people to be aware of what they are eating, how it was prepared and where it came from. The challenge to do these things isn’t a weird fad, it is a way of life. Our health as a nation depends on people like you helping those who haven’t stopped to think about what they are eating do so. Your blog helps all of us followers to think about what we have in our frig and what we can do creatively with it. You are doing some real worth while work on your blog with a good mix of humor you inform the world about what it takes to be serious about eating right.. Knowlegde is power and you are inpowering us. Thanks for that. we are up to the challenge, we kicked it off tonight with a meal of home grown chicken, our own potatoes and frozen corn from our garden. We are committed to trying to eat one local meal a week. We may never be total locavores but we are determined to be more aware of what we eat.

  • Tom Miller

    I look forward to reading your blog and using your creative recipes. I have been a fan since I looked up “mn locavore” on Google. Your recipes are weird compared to the standard American diet and that is a good thing. I don’t cook enough local food and I look to you for inspiration to cook more local foods. I took your Dark Days challenge and registered. I definitely want to “be weird with you.” Keep up the great work!

  • Katie

    I’m with YOU on being weird – I love your posts, and have made several of the recipes! Keep on being weird, because you should always “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I discovered your blog sometime during the summer, and check it frequently for new inspiration. I tend to follow a clean eating lifestyle, which is also considered “weird”. My friends and family give me a ration of *#$@ every time I bring a dish to a family gathering – until they taste it. Then, they can’t seem to get enough and ask for the recipe. So, keep on keeping on! I will keep following and loving all things locavore!

  • Ruth

    Hi there, I’ve been following your blog all summer long and I love to see what you come up with using Minnesota and Wisconsin products (I’m from MN/WI, too)! Maybe its just because I’m a health nut and eat “strange” food too but I say keep up the good work! I’ve slowly been incorporating more and more local foods in my lifestyle and I just want to say thanks for sharing the Dark Days Challenge because I’m jumping on the bandwagon and signing up!

  • Maria

    I, too, really enjoy your recipes and have made several of them. I love that you share where you find local producers and suppliers. It has helped me to expand my local eating beyond produce. I’m looking forward to seeing what you share this winter!

  • Johny

    When we went to the beach this summer we were so excetid to stop at a local organic produce market that looked much like this one. I had BIG PLANS to buy up all of our grocery needs for the week right then and there. My plans were totally foiled. The place we found was such a freaking letdown. I live in a small farming community, so perhaps my expectations were high, but looking at the photos of this adorable spot you found, I wasn’t asking too much! That place looks amazing!On another note, I will be making these sundried tomatoes with the overload of roma tomatoes still coming out of my garden. Thanks!!

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