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The Week Of Eating In: A HuffPost Green And Eyes&Ears Challenge

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We'd like to invite you to eat with us.

As HuffPost Green has expanded and grown over the past year and a half, we've come to learn that our readers are extremely passionate about all things food. How we eat impacts everything from climate change to the farmers in our communities to our country's growing waistlines.

HuffPost Green readers have shown that they are totally engaged on topics like the local food movement, sustainable agriculture, factory farming, seafood politics, farmers markets and even hot farmers. But now we'd like to invite you to go beyond just consuming news to present you with a way to make it all personal. So that's why we'd like to invite you to participate in The Week Of Eating In Challenge.

One of HuffPost Green's bloggers, Cathy Erway, embarked on an exciting journey last year that helped her think about what she ate in a whole new way. She decided not to eat out in restaurants for two full years and embrace the value of home cooking instead. Along the way, she learned how to be ingeniously self-sufficient about cooking for herself and built a passion for understanding where her food came from. She made up awesome recipes, saved money and had lots of fun along the way.

Cathy started a a popular blog about her adventures, Not Eating Out in New York and just wrote a book, "The Art of Eating In: How I Learned To Stop Spending and Love The Stove", about her time in the kitchen. With Cathy's expert help, we want to bring you mini-version of the experiment featured in the book.

We're proud to announce that starting on Monday February 22nd, HuffPost Green and HuffPost Eyes&Ears will be doing The Week of Eating In. For seven days, we'll invite you to take a pledge to eat in, aka COOK all of your own food for a week. There are no complex rules to follow. Just sign up below so that we can communicate with you, and pledge to do the week by letting your Facebook friends and Twitter followers know what you are up to.

We're defining cooking with broad strokes. We encourage you to use basic, whole food ingredients to prepare food, avoiding pre-packaged, pre-made food, like frozen dinners and ready-to-eat canned goods, but there are no strict rules. Make the rules for yourself. If this experiment for you means making your own bread and eating locally, so be it. If it means turning on your stove for the first time in your life, that's great too.

We think The Week of Eating In is important for the environment for a number of reasons.

When you don't cook what you eat, it is so much easier to be disconnected from what it actually is. Maybe you object to factory farming and buy organic meat. When you go out for an $8 chicken sandwich, however, you have no idea how that chicken was raised. Maybe you assume french fries are just potatoes-- but at restaurants, they can be cooked in partially hydrogenated oil, frozen, filled with preservatives and shipped thousands of miles.

We think taking responsibility for actually preparing what you eat for a week will be an (outrageously fun) consciousness-raising activity. Reading food packages, learning your way around your local grocery store or farmers market, and understanding what actual ingredients go into making your favorite dishes will empower you to think about what you eat in new ways.

In addition to making decisions about food that are better for the planet, we think you will also save money. Eating organic food, for example, can often be more expensive, but is very often cheaper to buy and cook than eating non-organic food at a restaurant. Eating non-packaged, non-processed food is also a better choice, even if it's conventionally grown. We ultimately think that if you cook your own food, you'll be eating healthier food -- less processed food, less snacks, less sweets.

One awesome rule we love from Food expert Michael Pollan's book, "Food Rules", is eat all the junk food you want -- as long as you make it yourself. Think about what a difference in effort it would be to make a Twinkie from scratch than to merely open a package? It makes the treat much more of a rarity.

So if you'd like to join us of a week of putting our aprons on and getting messy in the kitchen, we're here with resources every step along the way. Get started with this awesome slideshow explaining the most important and common food buzzwords and why they are important. Always wondered what the deal was about grass-fed beef? This slideshow will explain this and important eco-food lingo. In addition to exploring the environmental costs of eating out and where our food comes from, Cathy will be sharing everything from tasty winter dishes to kitchen must-haves.

We are also very excited to bring social media and citizen journalism elements to The Week of Eating In. We'd like to invite our readers as citizen journalists to send us photos of their favorite food stores, and track how much money they spend before the week of eating in and during the experiment. We'll also ask you to tell us what you got out of the week, and send us photos of some of the best dishes you made.

Sign up here!

You can take the pledge below and let your friends and contacts know what you are up to.

Happy eating (in)!

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