Tuesday, March 29, 2011

100 mile Challenge vs the 100 ft Challenge

You hear a lot of talk these days about the 100 mile Challenge.  Someone told me a few years back about it (since we haven't had cable or satellite in years), they had seen it on the Food Network.  By purchasing items that were produced within a 100 mile radius, we would gloablly reduce carbon emissions by a drastic amount!  I was intrigued. 

I checked out the Food Network's website on the matter.  I've included the link for anyone one else who is curious about this global phenomenon.  It is quite a cool site!  It includes a list of what food are seasonally available.  There is also a meal planner and recipes too!  Their community is wide and varied...as showcased in their blog.  Also, it seems the idea has spun into a show too...there are episodes you can view of the families who have volunteered for the challenge.   

For the past few year,  I have consciously sought out local (or at least closer) items.  Its challenging in itself...as some labels are misleading.  Some say "packaged for distribution in Ontario", which is vague and doesn't tell you where it was actually grown.  I especially like it when the label includes the address of the producers.  The March issue of Harrowsmith Country Life had a large article about Food Fraud.  What that means is that people have been latching on to this closer-to-home phenomenon and taking advantage of gullible consumers.  Big food stores say they purchase from local producers...but then define local as anywhere in Canada.  (anyone who's ever driven from Nova Scotia to BC knows thats not really local in the generic sense of the word)  It takes a bit more effort and time to make those informed decisions, but its well worth it.  The more we buy stuff from off shore, the less we'll see those farms along country roads.  Its that simple. 

I like my cheese from Wilton cheese factory (a 20 min drive from the factory) or Ivanhoe in a pinch.  Luckily both are sold in several Verona stores.  The Ivanhoe factory is in Belleville, a 40 kms drive.  My milk is from Reids dairy, also a Belleville commodity.  My meat comes from either the famer's market here in Verona or the Local Family Farms store (also in Verona).  An important connection you should try to foster is between you and the person responsible for your food.  I'm working on getting a local egg supplier...but my husband still says we should just house our own chickens.     

I think that the 100 mile Challenge is also a contributing factory as to why I garden so whole-heartedly.  Its the closest I can do my grocery shopping!  Why pay big store prices when you can step out of your back (or front) door? 

Honestly, do you want your food to come from the other side of the world, and packaged in an environment like the one shown below?

Food production in China

Call me crazy, but I prefer the environment shown below:

Food production in my backyard
I understand that gas prices are not going down any time soon...so that means prices on everything we use and need will be much more in the future.  I would much rather learn to provide for myself, than depend on weather conditions in Mexico for my sustinance.  On a primal level, it just seems absurd. 

The more I learn, the more I grow.  The more I grow, the more I cook.  The more I cook, the more I learn.  Its cyclical!

I urge everyone to try the 100 mile challenge...or better yet, the 100 foot challenge!

I recently took a poll of my Facebook friends...and so far around 23 folks have said they plan to grow something this year.  People from all walks of life, urban or rural, house or apartment are growing!

I urge you all to try and grow something....or if you can't grow (that's called a black thumb)...make friends with a relative or neighbour who does....chances are, they will grow too much of something and you can partake in the goodness!


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