Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The 100 Mile Diet Experiment: Installment 1

Hello everyone!

Sorry about the long break... I had to take advantage of the great weather last week! And now it is Monday, and I'm sitting down in front of the computer on a rather gray morning to write my first post about Erik and my (and eventually your) 100 Mile Diet experiment.

First, a little background information:

The 100 Mile Diet started out as a pet project of a couple living in Vancouver, British Columbia. Back in 2005, and before the major food-mania hit, they decided to eat only local food for a whole year. Their inspiration? The awe-inspiring (read: horrifying) fact that almost every meal eaten in North America has traveled an average of 1500 miles from soil to plate. This statistic, calculated by the Leopold Center at Iowa State University, drove home for them how wacky our food system has become. Their response? Get local. For them, this involved packing away their chocolate, spices, rice, and olive oil... and embarking on a year-long learning process about the amazingly rich foodshed in which they lived. Along the way they learned a lot about the history of food in the Pacific Northwest, about the industrial agriculture and food systems, and about how real food tastes. They chronicled their experiment in the memoir Plenty, being cruelly honest about the hardships and joys of a truly local diet. For more information, check out their very informative website here.

Bringing the 100 Mile Diet to Yamhill County:

A couple months ago, while brainstorming possible projects for Slow Food, the little thought crossed my head... "why not do a 100 Mile Diet here?" Thus, the 100 Mile Diet Experiment has been born.
Erik and I are signing up to be your guinea pigs: eating on the 100 mile diet, and doing a lot of research about local food sources in advance of the bigger experiment. Slow Food will be announcing within a couple of weeks the dates for the official 100 Mile Diet Experiment. If you want to participate, please contact us! Until then, I'll be writing regularly here on the blog about our experience, so definitely check back here as well!

Below I've added a few of my thoughts on the eve of starting this experiment. Do you guys drink coffee? What would you be willing to give up in the name of experimentation? I'd love to have your input as I start planning!

Talk with you all soon.


Anxious before the start.

So I’m sitting down to write my first post about the 100 Mile Diet while finishing an iced Americano. Yes, I am aware of the irony in that. Does it count that I’m also snacking on delicious goat cheese from Dundee? Probably not. Especially since I’m pairing garlic-herb chevre with espresso. Don’t judge me.

Is it silly that I’m a little anxious about starting a 100 Mile Diet? I mean, I’ve got two whole months to plan and scout out delicious local foods… but I still feel a little nervous. My first impulse when Erik and I decided to do it was to run out right now and stock up on ingredients. Erik then kindly reminded me that we do have a lot of time to figure this out. But my favorite (and most frequently consumed) food items tend to be wheat products, and wheat might be hard to find inside our 100 mile radius. I don’t know this for sure, but I’m thinking that I’m going to spend a month without pasta… and that makes me feel hungry just sitting here. Like a squirrel before winter, I want my pantry stocked up with things that might fill that gap.

On the flip side, I am also really excited to do this. I’ve been thinking about, reading about, researching, and exploring local foods for a while now. It seems like the logical next step to do it all the way: to draw that circle on the map, and figure out how to live within those means. The first thoughts in my head (before my pasta freak-out) were, “oh, I should call my friend and double my order of eggs each month.” The second thought was “I get to go on field trips!” Yep, I fully intend to visit the Willamette Valley Cheese factory. I also plan on scouring Bob’s Red Mill for grains or legumes that come from this side of the Cascades. I'll also be doing a lot of cold calls to farms in the area to see what they have to offer. Sounds like an adventure! I’m also going to be able to come home from the farmer’s market with bags and bags of delicious produce, and know that not one bit of it will wilt in the back of the fridge. And go u-picking! Mmm mm: blueberries and blackberries and peaches! You see, this might just be fun!

And truly I think it will. I am excited to be in the kitchen more. I won’t have the excuse of canned sauce and dried pasta in the cupboard… I’m actually going to have to cook (or at least assemble) every night. I’ll also have to make my own snack foods. And I need a lot of snacks, so homemade crackers here I come. (Hmm, there’s the wheat issue again.) I’m also going to use this month as an excuse to (hopefully!) get off of my coffee habit. After being a barista and long-time coffee shop groupie, that could be interesting. Wish me luck!


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