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Challenging times

Making changes, even for the better, can be hard. Most of us know that we should be favouring local sustainable food, reducing the amount of stuff we buy, and carrying our reusable drink bottle or coffee cup with us. But these changes can be an effort until they become a habit.

I’ve found that setting myself a challenge is a great way to help the change become a habit. I like that challenges push me beyond my comfort zone and that afterwards I settle into somewhere better than before.

Last year our household skipped supermarkets, shopping malls and super chains. Shopping through local cooperatives and at the farmers’ market, greengrocers, butchers and the baker became a habit. Now that the challenge has ended, I’ve found it relatively easy to continue shopping this way.

We’ve also set ourselves a few no spend challenges, particularly in times when we’ve noticed our daily miscellaneous expenditure has crept up. A time of not spending is a great way to break the spending habit and remind us of the difference between needs and wants.

Recent no spend easter hat made from a fallen nest and chickens from a past easterLittle Eco's Easter Hat - made without spending a cent and using what we had at home: a fallen birds nest and chickens from a previous Easter.

A ‘Six Items or Less’ challenge, where I wore only six items of clothing for a month, helped me reduce the size of my wardrobe considerably. I discovered that it’s easy to be organised when you have fewer items of clothing to manage. I also rediscovered the lost art of spot cleaning and learnt that those 50’s housewives were smart - aprons are great for keeping clothes clean for longer.

Local Harvest launched the Local Harvest Challenge last week.

The Local Harvest Challenge aims to help people get connected with their food.

There are three options. For the ‘bite-sized’ challenge you choose one task a day from a list that includes, for example: shop at a farmers’ market, source farm-gate produce, source local meats or cheeses, go foraging or buy cruelty-free eggs. The ‘meal-sized’ challenge requires at least two tasks a day and the ‘feast-sized’ challenge requires you to commit to eating only locally and sustainably produced food for the entire week.

I’m tempted by the feast-sized challenge. Thankfully, the challenge can be taken at any time so I’ll sign up soon.

A meal fit for a challenge - a 100 metre meal at Margan Resturant in the Hunter Valley. All ingredients were sourced from within 100 metres of our table. Tricia Hogbin-001A meal fit for a challenge - a 100 metre meal at Margan Resturant in the Hunter Valley. All ingredients were sourced from within 100 metres of our table.

In the meantime, I’m exploring Local Harvest’s helpful website and looking forward to learning more about the producers and small businesses of the Hunter region.

[Originally published in the The Newcastle Herald 6th April 2013]

Are you a fan of taking challenges? What challenges have you set yourself lately?