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Eating to Save the World

The Locavore phenomenon

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Eating to Save the World

A new way of thinking is gaining momentum. It's known as the Locavore Movement, and was largely kickstarted by the introduction of the 100 Mile Diet.

How often do we consider where our food comes from? Do we know what process it went through from initial conception to arriving on our plates? Might there be risks to our health, our community, and our environment if we don’t ask these questions?

A new way of thinking is gaining momentum. It’s known as the Locavore Phenomenon, defined as “eating a diet consisting of food harvested from within an area most commonly bound by a 100-mile radius.” This movement was largely kick-started by the introduction of the 100-Mile Diet.

Canadians Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon pioneered the 100-Mile Diet in Vancouver by deciding that for one year, they would only buy or gather food from within 100 miles of their apartment. This humble idea sparked interest with individuals and grassroots groups who followed their lead and developed their own eat-local mantra.

Smith and MacKinnon succeeded in their challenge. For one year they ate foods that were locally grown and that had travelled the shortest distances to their dining table. They also found a larger variety of food types as they discovered the seasons, the micro-seasons, and the micro-micro-seasons.

So what are some of their reasons for eating local food?

Better for the Environment

Sustainability and global warming are such hot topics at the moment, and many people want to do their bit to help support a healthier environment. Small initiatives carried out by many people can make a big difference.

Most ingredients in an average North American meal have travelled approximately 1,500 miles (2,414 km) to get from farm to plate. To cut out a big chunk of this travel would greatly reduce not only pollution from transportation and refrigeration but also the greenhouse gases emitted, as well.

Taste and Nutritional Content

Locally grown fruits and vegetables are usually sold within 24 hours of being harvested. Because they are picked at the height of ripeness and travel only a short distance to market, their freshness, nutrition, and flavour are retained. Produce trucked in from far away may lose both taste and nutritional content.

Community and Home Values

When you buy direct from a farmer or buy locally grown foods, you are engaging in a time-honoured tradition between grower and eater. You also help keep dollars within your community.

Many people these days are focused on quick fixes; they rarely take the time to source locally grown produce and cook a meal to enjoy with family and friends. But doing this strengthens our social bonds, bringing a bit of realism and humanity back into our daily lives.

Some Canadian Restaurants Supporting Local Farmers

British Columbia

  • Aurora Bistro (aurorabistro.ca)
  • Raincity Grill (raincitygrill.com)
  • Rocky MountainFlatbread Co. (rockymountainflatbread.ca)
  • Vij’s (vijs.ca)
  • Jamie Kennedy at the Gardiner (jkkitchens.com/v2/restaurants.html)
  • The Pointe (wickinn.com/restaurant.html)

Ontario

  • Harvest Restaurant (harvestrestaurant.ca)
  • Eigensinn Farm (thecitykitchen.ca/Places_Events_Stadtlander@Eigensinn_Farm.htm)

Fair Trade Options

Eating 100 percent locally might never replace our current need to source certain foods from various faraway places.

If you are in desperate need of some chocolate or lemons, you can find fair trade versions and buy them instead. The range of foods available is constantly expanding as consumers demand more local produce.

James Mackinnon sums things up pretty well when he says, “We don’t think everyone needs to eat 100 percent locally all the time. We just need to return to the old balance: strong local food systems first, global trade products a distant second.”

Farmers’ Markets

Farmers’ markets are a great way to stock up on local goodies. Find out where your nearest markets are, which supermarkets supply local produce, and what foods are available throughout each season by heading to:

  • 100 Mile Manitoba (100milemanitoba.org)
  • Farmers’ Markets Ontario (farmersmarketsontario.com)
  • Ottawa Buy Local Guide (spcottawa.on.ca/ofsc/buylocal/buylocal.html)
  • Local Food Dude (localfooddude.com)
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