Friday, August 20, 2010

Life Of An Ea-Pea, Episode 1: The 1000 Mile Diet

When I first arrived back in Halifax on June 4, after the conclusion of my cross-Canada travels, I told myself that I would try to buy all of my groceries only from one of the various farmers' markets around the region. In fact for my first three days back, when I was living at a hostel, I ate nothing but beets, beet greens, carrots, carrot greens, and rye bread that I had found at the nearby Halifax Farmers' Market.

I had been inspired by the dedication of authors like Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon who wrote the 100 Mile Diet, about only eating food that had been grown within 100 miles of their home, and numerous other "locavores". I was convinced that eating locally was not only healthier for the environment (think about the damage done by shipping those apples in from South America or cantaloupes from Costa Rica, etc., when they might even be grown in your own province). A problem with my plan arose when I moved further away from the Famers' Market, and realized I did not have the carrying capacity to cycle my groceries back home (or failed to come up with a way to do it). Additionally, the Farmers' Market is only open on Saturdays from 9 AM until Noon, and even though I may be an ea-pea, I just wasn't ready to give up my Saturday mornings when there are four supermarkets within walking range of my current house. (Note: I recently discovered a Thursday afternoon farmers' market even closer to my home than the closest supermarket.)

Enter plan B: The 1000 Mile Diet. I had to be realistic with myself. While eating food only grown 100 miles away might be realistic for middle class yuppies from Vancouver, I was dirt poor, had no capacity to build a garden, and was not mature enough yet in my ea-pea ways to figure out all of my options for buying my food directly from the local farmers. The 1000 Mile Diet involved a pledge to myself to only buy groceries that a) was grown/produced in Canada, and b) came from no further away than Ontario. In a pinch though, I have purchased carrots from New Jersey (roughly 1000 miles away), but only as a last resort.

How do I do it? What does my fridge look like? Well, on any given day I have apples, milk, eggs, potatoes and blueberries from Nova Scotia; delicious, nutritious, organic oatmeal from New Brunswick; and cucumbers, red peppers, and tomatoes from Ontario. On special occasions I even find Nova Scotia carrots, strawberries, cantaloupe, and any of the Ontario vegetables being grown in Nova Scotia too at my local Sobey's, and numerous other Atlantic grown goodies like corn or green and yellow wax beans, or turnips. If I'm patient I can even find peaches from Ontario. In short, I eat a complete diet from food grown/produced only in Eastern Canada.

It's not perfect, but it's a start. By this fall, I hope to be making it to the Farmers' Market on at least a monthly basis, especially now that I have a new bicycle with a basket on the back (more on that in a later Life of an Ea-pea post). Ultimately even, I will eat nothing but hand picked vegetables from my own backyard garden, and hand picked eggs from my own backyard chickens, and even hand squirted milk from my own backyard goat (okay, maybe that last one is a little too ambitious). In conclusion, I am Dave and I am an ea-pea; hear me roar!

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