Do you jump in or wade in? Even as a kid and going swimming in less than warm water, I would wade in very slowly until every part of me was numb, then I summoned every ounce of courage to dunk my head under water. I admired and feared those around me who could just dive right in.
For me, the same is true for the 100 Mile Challenge. Now that I’ve finally finished watching the Food Network Canada show, the families chronicled all had a farewell feast to their favourite foods before the cupboard was cleaned out. I think that would be brutal and I can only imagine how grumpy I would be on Day 1 if that happened to us.
While my family and I aren’t fully committing until January 1st (and by fully, I mean a 75% full commitment), we’ve chosen to ease ourselves into it and have already begun purchasing local produce at all times. We’ve found that by doing the research now and preparing foods that are canned or frozen has helped us become more excited and committed to the challenge. Plus, in preparation for the challenge, we’re working through our pantry and freezer to eat up the non-local food so there’s no waste in January and no imported food to tempt us.
So, here’s a run-down of us and our challenges, what we have planned and what we have prepared:
- J: My husband. While he’s enthusiastic about the challenge, he’s nervous (read: grumpy, unhappy, suspicious) about giving up coffee. My promise of putting whipped cream on everything is easing his nerves and making this challenge more palatable.
- E: Our 15-month-old daughter. A very picky eater with allergies to dairy and possibly gluten. She will be somewhat excused from the challenge, although fruits, vegetables and meat will all be local. Rice milk, gluten-free bread and iron-fortified cereal will certainly be kept in her diet.
- Me, Lindsay: I love food. But I love food with seasoning. I’m excited about the challenge, but I’m most nervous about going without my favourite seasonings and my beloved Thai and Vietnamese food. I live for cinnamon, long for vanilla and nutmeg is the world’s dreamiest spice. Living without extra spice and seasonings will be difficult. I also have gluten allergies and I’m still determining how I’ll go about this challenge (i.e. locally ground but imported brown rice flour, no processed gluten free items like rice cakes or bread, make my own rice pasta, etc).
What We Have Planned:
- 100 days of local eating! Our local farmer’s market has feta cream cheese, free-range eggs, grass-fed beef, pork, chicken and a local farm raises organic turkeys. We intend to do the bulk of our shopping at the farmer’s market or through our Co-Op grocery store, which carries a wide range of local produce. Additionally, our CSA provides us with fresh root vegetables until the end of December, which we hope we’ll have some leftover to keep in our cold storage.
- we aim for 75% and one full meal a week will consist of strictly local ingredients, as part of the 4th Annual Dark Days Challenge.
- The 75% includes: lobster, mussels, sustainably sourced fish, meat, vegetables, oats and wheat (Speerville Flour Mill), club soda, eggs, cheese from PEI and Sussex (ADL and Sussex), yellow eyed and Jacob’s Cattle beans, tomatoes and cucumbers from a greenhouse in Truro, apples, wine, family produced honey, maple syrup, Northumberland dairy, feta from Nova Scotia, local herbal tea and we plan to set up our grow lights to grow our own herbs, lettuces, spinach and maybe swiss chard and we have plans on how to offset the additional energy use.
- The 25% percent will be: yeast (maybe, we’re experimenting with sour dough bread at the moment), baking soda and powder and salt. Yes, we live by the ocean, but I’m concerned about the amount of energy it would take to boil down the water to produce the salt. Besides, Sifto has a plant in the Maritimes – maybe ionized salt already is local?
- J already makes his own pasta and bread
What We Have Prepared:
- frozen and canned soups made with local ingredients, 5 lbs frozen blueberries, frozen apple cider and a cold pantry full of preserves. I know some of these preserves contain sugar and vinegar that aren’t local, but as long as the total amount of local ingredients is 75%, then I’m allowing it.
- dried sage from the garden, thyme and parsley growing in pots by the window
- frozen tomatoes and jalapeño peppers
- frozen maple syrup
- cheese and nut free pesto
Stay tuned as we inch ever closer to starting our challenge. We’re excited and nervous but confident this will change the way we eat and help us be in better relationships with those that make and produce our food.