Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Three Months, 300 Miles

Don’t tell the boys yet!

As the spring grows redolent with late cherry and apple blossoms, and the tulips fade while irises appear I think about the bountiful blessing of our local agriculture: the wonderful asparagus already in our kitchens, the fabulous tomatoes we will soon see at the farmer’s markets. I’m tired of food from Peru and China, or some processing plant in the Rust Belt. I’m longing for fresh; my spirit needs the sustenance and my body needs the anti-oxidants.

Because I do everything Sustainable Ballard tells me to do, last year in August I took the 100-mile challenge and for one whole month ate only foods grown within the Northwest region. Here’s what happened:
  • My food budget dropped by 25%; I don’t know why but local was cheaper for my pocketbook.

  • I lost five pounds, not that you’d notice.

  • The two EarthCorps internationals living with me (both from South America) hardly paid attention because it turns out that this is how they had eaten their entire lives.

  • My then 17 year-old son hated it: local food means no processed food, no pizza, and no chips. He complained every day. Tough!

This year, we have a young man from Namibia living with us, and he likes meat and pizza and food more to Brian’s taste. Also, like most young people from the south, he’s an avocado-a-day man. So this year, I’m going to have a hard time telling the both boys my plan: three months, 300 miles.

That’s right. Sustainable Ballard got me going. Then we at Earth Ministry worked on the Local Farms/Healthy Kids legislation this year and I learned all over again why local food is better for so many reasons. If it was only that local food is cheaper, healthier, and good for the local economy and the environment and is more fair and just to local workers, I might not be so in love with it. It’s the beauty and delight and fun and neighborliness of local food, it’s the thrill of twenty versions of lettuces or cucumbers that you would never see in a big store. It’s the flower ladies from Southeast Asia; the buskers signing their hearts out while you select oysters from Shelton or cheese from Linden. It is knowing your producer is also a concert cellist or has a kid at Oxford. It’s full-catastrophe living and it makes me happy.

So I’m initiating our own private regional foods 3-month challenge this summer: July, August, and September (take that, Sustainable Ballard!). We at 1806 are going to eat regional, not local food, because it is more honest. It lets us have wheat and bread and veggies from Yakima, salmon from BC and shrimp from Oregon. That’s why we extended the jurisdiction to the whole region, which still keeps our foodprint pretty darn small. It still means no bananas, rice, and processed food besides ice cream from Tillamook Oregon. Iggy won’t get his avocadoes, and my poor Brian will have forgo his pizza-a-day habit and eat, God help him, a vegetable.

We will all be healthier, closer to the source of food and of life. I will take in less fat and the boys will take in more nutrients. Our wonderful local producers will get our business and chat with us about their lives. We will eat what the seasons offer and no more. You, cherished reader, will hear stories about local farms, good meals, major rebellions in the household, and the dogs’ waist measurements.

We’ll do this in July, August, and September. Ask your own household about it. Join us! Make comments on the blog. Decrease your food-print and your waistlines while connecting with the beauty of our region and God’s gifts from Creation. I must be getting old, because this is my idea of a really good time.

1 comment:

Michael Wolf said...

Extremely well written. Fun. Factual. Practical. Honest.

There's a lot to be said about getting in touch with our bioregion. I first learned the term "Cascadia" from the folks at Salmon Nation who use it to describe the traditional range of salmon and steelhead. (The fish don't know that they're transiting zip codes or crossing state and national borders!)

The geographic range of a fish is huge compared to the tomatoe or leetuce you harvest from your (100 foot diet) garden. I think it's a wonderful acknowledgement of our connection to the earth to understand the cycles that we're part of -- large and small.