Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Exceptions to the Rule - Eating local produce for the Summer

I've been watching the 100 Mile Diet people's show on the Food Network. The premise is that they head to Nelson, BC and ask families to sign up to eat only local food for 100 days. It's more than a minor inconvenience and the families needed to completely overhaul how and what they ate.

On Sunday they had the finale show and every got back to normal. Many of the families headed straight for some coffee, sugar and beer.

I was impressed that many of the families suggest that they will keep the majority of their new practices, like sourcing local products, making their own bread, and cooking from scratch more often. They also lost a significant amount of weight and many reported feeling more alert and ready for the day when they wake up. Clearly a change for the good!

I recently read a book by Barbara Kingsolver (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) who did the 100 mile thing around the same time the BC couple were at it and recorded her families quest to produce and source food from their community eating only food they produced themselves or from local friends and farmers.

In their quest for one whole year of local eating they each had one thing they could keep using. Barbara chose her herbs and spices, her husband selected coffee, and I'm afraid I can't remember what her daughters chose. They were very successful in their plan (and had a leg up having many acres in the southern US and the know-how from years of farming and backyard gardening) and pledged to maintain a similar lifestyle for the foreseeable future.

This got me wondering if I could do it - eat local for 100 or 365 days. I think not, but I am one person cooking for myself with limited skills and resources. This doesn't mean I can't do my part! With the Farmers Market season here ready to open, I perched on my chair waiting to try local produce only for the summer. I have no idea how this will fair, and I may be subsisting on mushrooms and strawberries only, but there are worse ways to live. So I encourage you, check out your local farmers markets and see if you can make a similar attempt. It's a great Saturday morning activity and you'll never know who or what you'll encounter and it's definitely an eye opening experience - you'll never believe what you can grow locally in your region.

As for what I'd pick as my exception to the rule should I want to go whole hog into the local food movement at some time in the future, I think it should be sugar or rice - something practical - but for my purposes I really think I'll miss bananas. So I choo-choo-choose you, you sweet yellow devils.

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