Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Year's Resolution

 This might sound a bit ludicrous...I'm taking the pledge! Yep! That's right, starting January 1st, 2011 (today) I'll be sticking to the "100-mile diet." For those unfamiliar with it, it consists of eating everything from within a 100-mile radius to your home-town. This is a great website that summarizes everything -->

So why take-on this challenge, in the middle of winter no doubt!? If I can do this in January, I can do this in any month of the year! And my diet won't be restricted to potatoes and rutabagas contrary to popular belief. Perhaps my competitiveness makes me a sucker for challenges, but in truth, I want to test if it's possible for a teenager who lives in a world of processed foods and 'lunchables', to eat healthily, and sustainably for 1 year.

I'm particularly excited about this feat, even if a little optimistic right now. We have long known that local food (especially organic) is much healthier for you, tastes better, cuts down on fossil-fuel mileage, supports regional farmers and brings one in touch with the seasons. In a region such as our own that holds rich-tradition in farming, and is bountiful in food suppliers, I expect that once I further build up my network, this challenge won't be as difficult. I have already sourced out where to find dairy, meat, vegetables, fruit in-season, and grain. I'll have to make everything from scratch to ensure I know where the ingredients originated.

The plan was to do this for 100 days, ending the challenge on April 10th, 2011, but that would mean that I miss the reward of the growing season and the fresh produce. Doing this for a whole year will mean that I get to experiment with even more  preserving, canning, freezing, etc, and preparing a 100-mile Christmas feast, this time, next year.

Now, there have to be a few ground rules to make this work. I can't expect that everything will be either black or white. What about yeast for making bread? What about dinner out with friends? What about salt and pepper?
This is my version of the modified rules to keep me sane, and to keep my social-life in check:
  • Dinner-out with friends and family is allowed. I will keep this to no more than twice per-month. Local-supporting restaurants are favoured and "cheating" will be minimized by ordering in-season items. 
  • Fair-trade salt and pepper will be allowed when necessary, but I will stick to using natural seasonings where I can. 
  • I will use fair-trade olive-oil when absolutely necessary, otherwise trying to avoid it.
  • When travelling, the 100-mile circle travels with me. That is, when I travel to the cottage, I source local foods there and stick to the rules. I am not allowed to travel out of the circle just to taste Starbucks, etc. And when returning from a trip, it is acceptable to bring back local foods/spices/ingredients that I may use within my circle. Ie: Chiles from Italy that I brought back from the Amalfi coast. 
  • Foods that are wholly local, except for a very small amount of minor additives, are acceptable. This is to encourage me to support local producers who are dedicated to local foods, but are not as exacting with their ingredient choices as I. Such products might include: wine made with yeast, cheese made with rennet, salt-cured meat, etc, but would not include meats pre-marinated in non-local sauces. This is a grey area, so I will use fair discretion in choosing foods.
  • Food I catch is free game! 
  • "The Randy Rule" - Under exceptional circumstances - ie: a conference gala, an uncle's traditional pancake breakfast, a bottle of wine celebrating a 10-year anniversary, exceptions are made...The intent of the challenge is to build community, not break it down. 
I expect to be relying a lot more on our local CSA with Fertile Grounds -->
Hopefully my family won't miss the extravagant cooking, as I suspect I'll be toning it down a bit when it comes to fancy dishes with multiple ingredients. I will still cook for everyone if they like, but they will then have to eat what I eat. I have staked-out a corner in the fridge and have my "safe-box" with go-to ingredients that I know are 100-mile safe. 

I have said goodbye to my last cup of orange juice, champaign or wine. There will be no chocolate or packaged nuts, or coffee or earl-gray tea. I won't be eating pasta (unless made by myself from local flour), or packaged bread or packaged anything. This is a little insane, but I hope it will serve as an example to others. If one teenager can survive on 100%, 100-mile local food for a year... starting in January...then anyone can pop-down to the local farmers market once in a while, surely...


  1. I'll be interested in following this project! Let me know if you need any suggestions for local products...I've been working on finding local sources for a lot of things (e.g. Oakrun Farms flour, Stirling Creamery butter - just outside your 100-mile circle unfortunately, Ontario Food Co-op canned tomatoes, etc.). Good luck!

  2. Thanks Laura! :D
    I would definitely love some help with sourcing items :)
    If you have the links to their websites I'll take a look.