This week I’m sharing some takeaways from my 100-mile experiment - all the things I learned from eating only local foods for thirty days. But first: I am appearing in a handful of podcast interviews this month to talk about seasonality, and seasonal approach to nutrition, movement and running your business. Given how impacted by fluctuations in light and temperature humans are, expecting ourselves to eat the same way, move the same way and make money the same way year round makes absolutely no sense. Our mood will fluctuate, our energy will fluctuate - heck… the availability of ingredients for your salad will fluctuate. Soooo, if you have a podcast, and think this will be a good fit, holler at me. Now, back to the 100-mile experiment! This remains the most drastic food-related experiment I have undertaken to this day, and I have shared the specific rules that I laid out for myself, as well as the foods I gave up in the last week’s email. If you missed it, you can catch up HERE. Given the extensive list of rules and restrictions, I knew this was not going to happen willy-nilly, so the night before the first Monday included an extensive grocery shopping trip, as well as the fridge clean out. The first morning arrived, and I got out of bed, instead of lounging around as usual. I knew that my regular coffee was not coming. Instead, I headed to the fridge to start making breakfast. As I opened the fridge door, I marveled at how uncluttered the shelves were - every single item was fresh. And, of course, local. Breakfast consisted of eggs, bacon and greens from the garden. Later for lunch - another salad with chicken and tomatoes (again from the garden). Not bad! How hard could this be? I had this 100-mile thing in the bag. The reality check hit on the second day, when I was hit with a raging caffeine-withdrawal headache. Boo! That did put a bit of a damper on the next couple of days, however, headaches subsided; meanwhile, every meal continued to taste amazing - delicious home cooked meals - everything made from scratch - from chili to soup to stews. I could eat like this forever! If only I could have coffee back. And peanut butter. A week into the experiment, I found a “100-mile store”, and made a pilgrimage downtown Toronto, both curious and hopeful. The thing I realized about both farmer’s markets and grocery stores, specializing in local food is that you still have to read the labels. It is not uncommon to find bananas sold at an Ontario farmer’s market alongside apples and carrots. Now Niagara region is known for warmer climate, but I am pretty sure they ain’t growing bananas. The farmers may choose to sell some nonlocal items simply to meet the demands of the shoppers - if a busy parent is shopping for apples and bananas, and they cannot find both at a farmer’s market, they will head to a grocery store instead. With that in mind, I cautiously approached the fully stocked shelves of the store, ignoring the tall bottles of flavoured olive oil. Olives and Canada do not mix, that much I knew. Same went for bags of brown rice. The grains section had me interested. If I could find local flour, we’d be golden. Flour means bread, buns, wraps, sandwiches, pasta and whatever else my partner’s creative mind comes up with. Local sources of fat were limited to bacon grease and butter (oh how I missed nuts and avocado!), so we needed the carbohydrates to balance out the meals. And I have had my fill of white potatoes and butternut squash. When it comes to local foods, there is a difference between locally produced (grown, created) and locally manufactured (roasted, milled, packaged). You may find locally roasted coffee beans - and that’s probably the way to go, as they will be fresher - however, the beans are still traveling from Costa Rica or Ethiopia. Long way to go. Way more than 100 miles. Finally, I spotted a bag of flour - wheat milled and grown in Ontario! Score! We would have bread! I could hardly contain my excitement. A man in his 50s, who was restocking the shelves, saw me reading the labels with a determined expression on my face, and came over to offer help. He turned out to be a wealth of information (note to self - ask for help more!). I told him about the 100-mile experiment and my coffee and peanut butter woes. “Well, you are out of luck with coffee”, he said. “But I think I can help you with the other thing”. He pulled a jar off the shelf. It was… peanut butter. Actual real peanut butter made from Ontario peanuts. I squealed, as I clutched the jar. And then hugged the man. He seemed pleased - I imagine it wasn’t too often that the customers would get this excited over some ground up peanuts. Not to bury the lede, but… we did make it the entire month.
Anything surprising to you in that list? Let me know. :)
Stay tuned for the last part of this blog later this week, where I answer the questions YOU sent in, and share a few specific things YOU can do in terms of incorporating some local foods into your diet without going all 100-mile diet. :)