Update on our eating local food challenge
You may remember Reduce Footprints challenged us to source and eat local food for a month.
I decided that knowledge was power and spent a day listing the foods I ate together with their food miles.
I ate 28,000 foods miles in just one day!
Since then I’ve been looking at what local, seasonal and fresh food is available to me. Reduce Footprints reckons ‘local’ means within 100 miles and many locavores would concur, including Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon who, in 2005 began a one-year experiment in local eating. They called it their ‘100 mile diet‘.
If you’re not sure where 100 miles of your location fall, this instant mapping tool will show you.
100 miles diet
Turns out most of the South West and Midlands area of England comes within 100 miles of my location which is a relief but I’m still struggling as a vegetarian to complete this challenge while feeling full, satisfied and healthy.
I don’t tend to eat cheese and eggs but I do combine a lot of grains and legumes to create a complete protein. The trouble is, not much rice grows in my neck of the woods!
Local dairy products
Even though my butter came from within 100 miles I found an even more local source which is 15 miles. But now I’m faced with a dilema – the most local butter isn’t organic. It’s not easy being green is it![amazon-product align=”right” small=”1″]0307347338[/amazon-product]
I found some really local yogurt, but alas it was vile. I’m pretty tolerant when it comes to sharp tasting natural yogurt but this stuff almost took the lining off my throat so I’ve stuck with my trusty brand which is just 100 miles away – phew!
Food from next door
Eggs I *could* get from neighbours, but I just don’t eat them. Perhaps I should start. Cheese is easy to buy local but I don’t eat it as it doesn’t really agree with me. I *could* made soft cheese from local yogurt, but it’s just not the same as a slab of cheddar grated onto a jacket potato.
Local, raw food
So all in all a light summer raw diet might just work for a month; say during the height of summer when you don’t want particularly filling or stodgy foods and I can get food from the garden. However in the depths of winter with a few inches of snow on the ground when a warming casserole full of lentils, chickpeas and other such delights is food for the soul I’m certainly not able to eat locally.
On the upside on my travels I came across some smashing resources:
First I found Eat Seasonably which tells you what to grow and what to eat throughout the year.
Next I discovered Eat the Seasons which updates weekly and shows at a glance fruits and vegetables that are at their best or still in season.
Finally, I absolutely love this poster from the School Food Trust which is a seasonal calender to show you what to look out for in the local farms and shops.
What about you – are you able to eat local food with our chosen diet?
We are also vegetarian … actually almost vegan in that we will eat a small amount of cheese but no other animal products. It’s tough to eat entirely local and get the nutrition we need. So then, for me, it becomes a judgment call … is it better to eat local or better to eat vegetarian when the two are mutually exclusive? From an environmental standpoint, I’m really not sure which is best … there are pros and cons to each choice (plants foods are more efficient to produce but traveling long distances has a big carbon footprint). From a nutritional standpoint, I believe there is no question … giving up animal products, for me, is healthier. So, I eat local as much as possible. To maintain a healthy diet, I expand my definition of local to ensure adequate nutrition. That doesn’t mean that I just buy anything … I really try to buy the product which is produced the closest to me.
Awareness is where we start. And then, asking questions and letting food providers know that we prefer local products helps. After all, they want us to come back and will try to stock what we want. If more people ask, they’ll make it happen.
Great update, Mrs. Green! 🙂
@Small Footprints: great response and you echo my thoughts about it becoming a judgement call. I’m still not sure where I stand to be honest; it’s been a very interesting topic to look at. So thank you for being the catalyst for this 🙂