I'm in Victoria with DH for the weekend. It's 8am and snowing so I cuddled up with a cup of coffee and the Times Colonist which is carrying a front page story plus a whole section on the 100 Mile Diet!!! Get this, I'm mentioned as a source of info for the diet!
I learned that B.C. Hothouse veggies are grown in Mexico in the winter!?! YIKES! Again, a reminder that beyond the 'Product of Canada' label is often imported food. You don't need to eat cucumbers 365 days in the year. There's sprouts, there's kale, there's locally grown salad greens, there's jerusalem artichokes and more winter squashes than you can shake a stick at.
Many of the articles look at the challenges that local farmers and 100MD followers face. Though I really am thrilled that the paper is looking at the merits of a 100 mile diet at this time of the year, there's an underlying sense of pessimism. The headline "The Island Diet" is followed with "Buying only locally grown food sounds like a good idea, but it's hard than it looks." Yes, I concur that farmers and 100 MD followers face challenges in this present food system and that there isn't enough food production to feed the island. I don't think that any of the local food advocates expect everybody to switch over to eating only locally grown foods overnight. I certainly don't. It's not reasonable to expect the average person to eat only locally grown foods. But just because you can't do everything, don't do nothing. Do something.
I've always advocated a gradual move to a more locally based diet. Start with the obvious and easiest local food choices. Right now, there's still lots of local kale, chard, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, various winter squash, onions, apples, cranberries for fresh produce. There's local dairy, meat and eggs, as well. Buy what you can locally. Continue to look for more local options. When you know better, do better
Ask your grocer for local options. Do the same at the restaurants. This is an important step. They might not have local option today but if enough people voice themselves, maybe they'll have it next time. Part of being on the 100 MD is being plugged into your food culture and being pro-active. It requires you to take some time, energy and thought into doing your part to help facilitate a sustainable local agriculture that supports both the consumer and the producer. Food is a long-term issue, we have to stop treating it as a short-term option.
Have your orange and eat it too! The 100MD for me isn't about zealously excluding everything that isn't locally grown from my plate. There are many products that can't be locally grown at the moment. Choose options that are going to provide benefits and a livelihood for a farmer elsewhere. Choose direct fair trade for coffee, sugar and chocolate. Perhaps reconsider how much of these items you really need on a regular basis. Some things I buy them as treats and not as a regular part of my core diet. I buy one box of mandarin oranges as part of my holiday treat. I relish the bright, citrus punch of aroma as I peel the thin skin away. I take my time enjoying each sweet and juicy section with a big grin and I let the good memories of the holiday seasons past fill my mind.
This leads me to talking about pleasure. I can talk until the 100 mile diet cows come home about why we should be supporting a local diet. In the end, it's really all about pleasure of good real food and the sastisfaction of having an authentic and deep relationship with the food that I put into my body. Take pleasure in a freshly picked local apple and let it's juices run down your chin!
Thank you the Times Colonist for your look at the Island Diet. I hope this discussion will evolve beyond the debate of whether or not we can do the 100 mile diet here on Vancouver Island and start providing information and meaningful dialogue about a deep-rooted local food system.
For more on 100 Mile Diet strategies, check out my blog entry on "Making 100 Mile Diet Work for You"
Also please check out the Nanaimo 100 Mile Diet Challenge website for more info on where you can get your locally grown food.
Oh yeah, remember to reserve your locally grown turkey for Christmas. Piper's Meats in Nanaimo is taking orders. Here in Victoria is the Village Butcher who brings in a wide selection of locally raised critters. Beyond turkey, there's also other local critters and local produce and drink for your 100 mile diet holiday feast.