Sunday, May 17, 2009

The 100 mile diet… or our own variation : Part 1

Yesterday, while driving to our favourite local nurseries for flowers and bonsai materials, we decided to get off the highway and take the scenic country roads back home. Since it was raining madly (only two crazy gardening and bonsai nuts would have gone shopping for open field grown hostas and hemerocallis in such a weather), we were driving extra slowly and got the time to look around a bit more than we usually would have. I was very surprised to find a local farmer that specialized in all kinds of potatoes!

Coming from Canada, potatoes for me are a Prince Edward Island thing. When I’m at the grocery store, it is my first thought : “Are they from P.E.I.? Then they must be good!” But now, I must admit, I will probably check his stands out when the growing season is here because he is local and because he is about 20 kilometres (15 miles) from my house.

After noticing him, I started looking more closely : Within those 15 miles until we got home, I found a local cheese maker (that uses milk from local milk farms), a few apple orchards, blueberry and strawberry fields, two organic farms and one apple cidery. That was when we decided to check out the 100 miles challenge website!

100 miles = 167 kilometres

The first thing I did was to figure out what my 100 miles was. Living mainly in metric, for me, 100 was not much. But after the conversion and seeing it on the map, the idea of living locally started to get more and more appealing.

Am I ready to take the challenge yet? Not quite.

What is holding me back?

  • First thing is that I’m an ovo-lacto vegetarian. A lot of the recipes and ideas for living locally come from eating local meats which is fine. At least most local small farms are not chopping down thousands of acres of forests to raise their cattle. So even though I eat eggs and dairy, it is not my main source of protein and through my research, I’m yet to find a local producer of such legumes as chickpeas, soya beans, lentils, beans in general, which are a staple of my diet. Now, I do try and buy Canadian grown legumes and grains that come from our prairies, but that is DEFINITELY more than 100 miles.
  • Second thing is that the growing season in Quebec is very very short. We live in a hardiness zone of 3 to 4, which means that we get 3, maybe 4 (if we are lucky) growing months a year. So you can imagine how scary it is to me that I may have to go so long without a variety of foods that I consider necessary to stay healthy.

So what to do?

For now, we are ready to take one pledge : From the moment the local farmers open their stands at local markets and along local country roads (which is usually late-June to late October), we will eat all local produce, milk and cheeses and drink local wines and ciders.

It will be hard to give up some of our favourite foods such as citrus fruit, bananas and tropical fruits. Also, what is Mexican food without guacamole? But I think it will be an exercise in creativity and we hope to be able to tough it out.

I will keep you updated on the exact date we will start and plan on doing more research into incorporating more local finds as we get ready for it.

What are some of your local favourites?


caroneko said...

This is great information, thank you! We have a farmer's market where I live... I've been taking advantage of it this summer.

Yanic said...

Caroneko : I cannot wait for our farmer's market to start. It has been mostly selling flowers and plants, but the fruits and veggies should start rolling in mid-june. Short growing season makes it a luxury... we take FULL advantage of it since it is walking distance from our home!

Thanks for stopping by!

Craig Baird said...

This is a great idea. Many people do not realize just how much food there is within 100 miles of themselves. Farmers markets, pick your own fruit plantations, everything can be found in your own area.

Good for you guys for spreading the word :)

Yanic said...

Hello Graig and welcome! Thanks for stopping by!

It is surprising to realize just how much is available right at your own doorstep. We've actually found a 100% Quebec (grown and brewed) beer! Now, to us, it would be more than 100 miles. But people in Montreal that would want to take the challenge could go get beer in less than 45 minutes at these two little farms that joined forces to grow the wheat and barley and malt necessary to make an award winning beer.

People need to just take drives! Pick a country road and simply push the trip-o-meter to zero and see what they can find in the next 100 miles! That is what we plan on doing! :-)