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The Food Challenge

Daniel said, “Do you think we can eat only food we’ve harvested by hand for the next two days?” We did.  Then we did it again during his next visit. Six years later, we spent an entire year eating hand-harvested food. Talk about a specialized diet. No eating out.  No bought food, no need to set foot in a grocery store. 

Here are some of our stories.

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How did you prepare for the Food Challenge?

We learned.  A lot.  We learned how to grow a garden, not to leave beets exposed during a freeze or they will turn to mush.  We learned where it’s legal to pick up road-killed deer.  We gave up sweeteners, caffeine, alcohol.  We experimented growing food at all times of year.  We had fun.  And we told people we were going to do it, so then we had to follow through!

What did you miss most? Least? How did you slip up?

I had a few moments of missing peanut butter.  Neither of us can remember any really sharp cravings, though.  We were never in any danger of going hungry.  I once drank some black tea someone left on the counter, thinking it was yesterday’s nettle tea.  Daniel and I accidentally ate some blueberries left by a friend who had picked them at a U-pick farm, violating our no-paid-for-food rule.  Sorry, we didn’t have any more dramatic transgressions.

What happened at the Food Challenge wedding?

“Are you sure you don’t want to get married in 2016 instead of during the 2017 Food Challenge?” I had asked Daniel as we firmed up our wedding date. 


“We can do it, Alexia.  It will be fine.” 


It was more than fine.  It was an incredible celebration of connected community.  Many hands prepared the food, from wild food aficionado Geneson Agbayani grilling a hundred pounds of home-grown chicken to Saskia Peck, godmother of the food challenge, cranking out huckleberry cheesecakes and fluffy whipped-cream cornbread.  Star chef Eduardo Garcia of Montana Mex kept chili-fennel salmon flying off the grill that night. 


Daniel and I were glad to be getting married.  But I must confess my sugar-starved heart also leapt at the thought of eating maple syrup cheesecake.

What did you learn? Would you do it again?

We could have done it more simply.  We had more food than we needed.  We were also the beneficiaries of an especially bountiful year and a lot of help.  We don’t go to the grocery store very much even now, and those trips are mostly to feed guests and groups who would tax our food supply (or be taxed by it).

Speaking of food...

Would you like us to speak at an event?  That’s one of our favorite things to do.  Please contact us via email and we’ll do our best to be there.  We love telling stories about connections between people, history, and landscape.

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