Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Eating Locally

by Gavin from The Greening of Gavin

One of my five goals for 2010 is a 100 mile diet, or a 160 km diet as I am calling it.  Our family has only been on it for 4 days, and we are finding it quite a challenge.  It was created by Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon who were the first to take this type of diet up in Vancouver, Canada.  To learn more about the 100 mile diet visit

It has only been a few days and only a few meals have been fully local, with the main reason being that I have quite a stockpile of food in case of emergency that we regularly rotate to keep it fresh.  About 3 months worth in fact.  One of my conditions of the local diet was that during the year, we would still use food that we already had stored in the house and supplement it with local fare as we went along.  I certainly didn't want all that stored food to go to waste.

The challenge has encouraged my wife and I to examine where our food really comes from and I don't mean the supermarket either.  Some of the weird examples in our stockpile so far are; a can of corned beef from Brazil, canned tomatoes from Italy, canned whole potatoes from Belgium! Cheap food is not always local.  I have no idea why we import all of this food, when most countries could probably feed themselves if they wanted to.

So, to prove a point, I am going to give it my best shot to eat as local as we can for an entire year.  We may have some tough times, but I believe that with determination and a lot of research, we can manage to achieve this goal.

To that end, I am growing more food than I ever have, and instead of giving away surplus to friends and neighbours, we are delving into the garden every day to harvest produce to cook that night.  I feel like we can really make a difference to our health, and help promote local food production in our area by letting people know why we attempting to be locavores for a year.

If you would like to find out what sort of 100 mile radius you have a look at this map.  Just type in your address and the red circle will show you what sort of challenge you might have in trying the 100 mile diet.

Farmers markets are abound in my area, so there will be no problem picking up local fare.  I have 8 chickens who keep me well stocked in eggs and both my wife and I are good cooks, so we shouldn't have a problem whipping up a meal from all of this fresh produce. 

So far we have managed quite well, and last night I cooked up some leek, potato and ham soup all from local sources, and my wife Kim made a Peach crumble for desert from peaches grown in our little orchard.  Not only do we believe that we will save a bit of money over the year because we won't be buying expensive processed foods, we will also probably loose weight as well.  This is because the processes foods have ingredients that make it near on impossible to trace the origins of the food, are usually high in fat, and low in nutrients, so we are going to steer clear unless we can guarantee they are all from local sources.

I know it is a big challenge, but it is probably one of the most exciting ones I have taken up on my journey towards a sustainable lifestyle.  It is nearly like being self sufficient, but with help from others, if that makes sense.  It will lower our environmental footprint dramatically, and raise community awareness that it is possible to live locally without importing food.  I am also hoping that it will raise the profile of our local food producers and I will certainly let them know why I am seeking them out and will offer to promote them on my blog for free.

So, every Sunday I will be writing a post on my personal blog about how easy or hard it was to eat locally for that week, lessons learnt, and the percentage of food that we managed to source from our area for each meal.  Is this a face that looks worried (as he trims a tiny leek)?

I was wondering if any of you had taken up this challenge, and if so could you please share any tips via a comment.  If you have please let me know of any downfalls or easy wins, because any encouragement at this early stage would be most welcome to me and my family. 

It is going to be a great year!