Willy Street Co-op's Eat Local Month

How Local Will You Go?

All September long we are making it even easier for you to Eat Local. We are highlighting local products throughout our stores, adding more sales on local products and inviting more local farmers and vendors into our stores to sample their products and answer your questions about them. We’ll also have giveaways, contests, and recipes for dishes using only local ingredients.

Like a challenge? Try to eat only local food for two weeks—or even four weeks! You can find a suprising amount of local products in our store, other stores, farmers' markets, CSAs, and other sources. We are offering plenty of resources to help, including recipes that use only local ingredients!

Why eat local?

Local foods tend to be fresher than those shipped from across the country or farther away, and fresh food has more nutrients. Transporting food long distances requires more fossil fuels and packaging than those grown and prepared closer to home. You’re also supporting your local farmers and keeping the agricultural viability of their communities alive.

(Willy Street Co-op defines “local” as within 150 miles of the State Capitol building or anywhere in Wisconsin.)

Our three levels of local

Lots of stores talk about shopping local. What does that really mean? The definition varies depending on where you shop, there is no set definition for local in the grocery sector. At our Co-op, local means the product was sourced from anywhere in Wisconsin or from within 150 miles of the state capitol building. Local products are noted with purple tags in our Co-op, and we break down our local definition three ways:

100% locally grown

Products above this shelf tag are entirely local. If the product has multiple ingredients, all of them are local and the product is baked, cooked, mixed, etc. locally.

locally grown

At least 50% of the ingredients are grown or raised in the state of Wisconsin, or within 150 miles of the Capitol building in Madison.

locally prepared

Products above this tag are made locally—and may be made with some local ingredients—but they do not meet the criteria we use for our "Essentially Local" designation.

Our four mini-challenges

We'll be posting one challenge on Facebook each week and randomly selecting three entries per week to each receive a tote bag full of local products worth over $100!

WEEK ONE (Sept. 1): Tell us your favorite local product, why you love it, how you use it, and share a photo.​ This contest is now done.

WEEK TWO (Sept. 7): Make a recipe with at least four local items - list the items and where they came from and share a photo. This contest is now done.

WEEK THREE (Sept 14): Preserve (can, freeze, dry, etc.) at least one local item - describe where it came from and how you're preserving it and share a photo. This contest is now done.

WEEK FOUR (Sept. 21): List three products that you think could be made locally, but that aren't available in Dane County as far as you know. Here's the link to this contest.

Samples from local vendors

Throughout Eat Local Month, we'll have a variety of local vendors in to provide you with samples of their products. For the where and when, see willystreet.coop/events. The vendors include:

  • Dr Noodles Gluten-Free Noodles
  • Qet Botanicals
  • Red Barn Cheese
  • Bos Meadery
  • Capital Brewery
  • Gorilly Goods Nut Bars
  • Creme de la Coulee Cheese
  • Central Waters Brewery
  • Flavor Temptations Indian Spice Blends
  • Mad Maiden Shrub
  • Renard's Cheese
  • Organic Valley
  • Island Orchard Cider
  • Capri Creamery
  • NorthStar Bison
  • Emmi Roth Cheese

Helpful Resources

Looking for some helpful suggestions about how to eat more local food? Here are some resources:

10 Ways to Engage Kids with Local Foods

"Food to Fork" Facts

Sample Week-Long Menus and Recipes from previous Eat Local Months (PDF format)

Inspirational Blogs/Articles

  • My Eat-Local Challenge - Andre Darlington writes in the Isthmus about how he ate regional food for a month.
  • Burp! - a Milwaukee-based blog that focuses on cooking with local, sustainably raised, and organic food whenever possible
  • My Year of Food - by our very own Executive Assistant and Newsletter Writer, Stephanie Ricketts!

Co-op Newsletter Articles


Our Partners

REAP Food Group logo

REAP Food Group - For more than 18 years, REAP Food Group has been working throughout Southern Wisconsin to build and sustain a local food system that supports small family farms and locally owned businesses, promotes sustainable agriculture practices, and provides access to fresh, healthy food for the entire community.

Check out the online version of REAP's 2015 Southern Wisconsin Farm Fresh Atlas, a great resource.

FairShare CSA Coalition

FairShare CSA Coalition - FairShare CSA Coalition is a coalition of people invested in the vitality and strength of our community. Through education, outreach, community building and resource sharing, we are working to raise the bar on quality and accessibility of CSA shares in our region.

CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, typically means that members of the farm purchase a share in advance, committing to the farm for the season and helping cover the initial annual costs of the farm operation. In return, members receive boxes of the farm’s produce or products throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and being more knowledgeable of local food production.

If you don't own a copy of "Farm-Fresh and Fast," their follow-up to "From Asparagus to Zucchini," you should get one. It's an invaluable cookbook, especially if you are interested in eating local!

Slow Food UW

Slow Food UW- Slow Food UW's mission is to "promote affordable access to "good, clean, fair" food by creating awareness about and engagement with our food system." It is made up of a group for UW students who are interested in where their food comes from, geographically and culturally. The group builds on years of success in uniting local chefs, farmers, and students in bringing the rich traditions of slow, sustainable, and local eating to campus.

Major projects include: Family Dinner Night (weekly dinners events); Celebrate South Madison (aiding underserved neighborhoods by connecting farmers, the UW campus, and the South Madison community); Market Baskets (a partnership with Growing Power consisting of weekly deliveries of fresh fruits and vegetables); The Slow Food Cafe (serving the most delicious, affordable, sustainable food on campus) and ongoing outreach (workshops on canning, composting, and other skills; lectures given by farmers and chefs; and volunteer work trips to local farms)

Although the sign-up period has ended, you can always eat more local food!