Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2021 Montana Local Food Challenge and made it a success! Even though the challenge is over, you can still enjoy local food! Check out the resources below to support Montana’s local food system all year long.
Montana Local Food Challenge
What is the Local Food Challenge?
Are you up to the challenge? For the month of August, Northern Plains Resource Council is challenging you (and ourselves) to eat more local foods, to ask for more local foods in your community, and to help support Montana agriculture in a giant way.
The Montana Local Food Challenge is an opportunity for all of us to:
- grow the community of local food supporters;
- have fun and win awesome local food prizes;
- change current buying and eating habits;
- make a personal commitment to eating locally;
- learn about the many benefits to localized eating and shopping practices.
The challenge is simple:
- eat local food every day
- participate in weekly challenges
- get the chance to win a $250 local food gift card
We have compiled resources to help during the month, including where you can dine out, where to source your local ingredients, and why buying local food matters. In addition to learning about local foods, you will be supporting our local food system and economy. And you will be showing how much fun, healthy, and delicious it can be to eat local!
Click here to learn more about Northern Plains Resource Council’s agriculture and food work!
What is “local”?
“Local” is a term that is used loosely, meaning different things to different people. For our purposes, we are defining local food as any Montana product (if the majority of ingredients were grown and processed in Montana and the business is owned in Montana). If you live near a state border, “local” can also include food from the closest bordering state.
Food systems are not defined by borders but by regions. This “Greater Montana Region” definition will serve to help us access more food businesses and think about building our food system on a regional level.
Interested in providing a sponsorship in support of Montana local food business?
Download our sponsorship form here!
Agriculture is at the heart of Montana but finding food your neighbors raised can be difficult outside farmers’ market season. We’re here to change that. Yellowstone Valley Food Hub offers direct access year-round to delicious, quality food from nearby farms and ranches. Farm fresh food, and a relationship with the people who grew it, is better for our health, our environment, and our community.
Since the early pioneers first made their way west, Montana has earned a reputation for producing first-quality wheat and grains packed with nutrients and bursting with flavor. That’s why we established Wheat Montana here years ago, and we’re glad to share Montana’s natural goodness with friends and neighbors like you.
What’s going on with local food in Montana
- Grow MT is a statewide food policy coalition.
- Farm to Cafeteria is a program that helps you find local producers and institutions buying local food in Montana.
- Yellowstone Valley Food Hub is a group of local farmers and ranchers working together to increase access to delicious, quality food year round. Northern Plains and our Billings-based affiliate, the Yellowstone Valley Citizens Council, helped organize and develop the Food Hub, which is now a thriving independent cooperative, growing by the day, helping to further establish a robust regional food system.
- Sustainable Table will show you what is seasonal in Montana in August, just enter Montana in the search box.
- Montana Harvest of the Month showcases Montana grown foods in Montana communities.
National Local Food websites
- Local Harvest is an interactive map with many sources of local food, an online buying function, weekly featured foods, plus the ability to track your purchases if you buy through the site.
- USDA’s Local Food Directories of farmers markets, CSAs, food hubs, and on-farm markets.
- Eat Well Guide to local food sources, including local restaurant listings.
- Local Dirt offers local food direct to your door.
- Falling Fruit is a site for local gleaners.
Frequently Asked Questions
When is the Montana Local Food Challenge?
The challenge begins August 1 and ends August 31, but that doesn’t mean you should stop eating delicious local food outside of the month of August!
What is the goal of the Montana Local Food Challenge?
Our goal is to support working family farms and ranches throughout the state and the restaurants and markets that sell their products, bolstering our local economies and improving Montanans’ access to local food. We hope the challenge will raise awareness of the vast potential in our local and regional food systems and will keep more of our food dollars within our state. Moreover, we hope to provide the opportunity for people with different perspectives to connect, build bridges, and discover common ground through shared love for Montana and a desire to support our local family farms and ranches. We aim to reach and connect urban and rural communities, local business owners, and new and long-standing producers across the state, creating strong and long-term relationships.
Is there a prize?
Yes! The winner will receive a $250 local food gift card of the winner’s choice! The gift card can only be used at businesses, retailers, and producers that grow, raise, and/or carry food from Montana.
What restaurants and grocery stores sell local food?
Check out this list of retailers and restaurants in Montana serving local food!