The 100-mile diet

meldy_nva(z6b VA)August 20, 2011

Saw an old (not in age, but in years known) friend last week, while we were wandering through the local farmer's market. To be honest, I didn't recognize her at first, when last seen she was somewhat [considerably] more than plump. She looked very, very good, not just slimmer but healthy and energetic-looking, and I told her so. She grinned and said, 'the weight loss is a side-effect of what I'm calling my 100-mile diet.'

It seems that a couple years ago she was in a book club, and one of the discussions became somewhat acrimonic. The book was about a family that decided to eat only foods grown within a 100-mile radius of their home (in Kentucky?). She and some others thought that would be easy to do while another member said things that translated into 'impossible.' A verbal line was drawn and several of the group said that they'd just show that it *could* be done, and then and there agreed that for the next year, nothing would be eaten that wasn't grown within 100-miles of the area.

We sat in the shade and talked for an hour or more, as she detailed all the trials and tribulations -this well-educated lady hadn't even known it was possible to make your own jams much less can/preserve food at home- and she laughed a lot about her 'crash course' in learning to eat locally grown foods. I asked her about the most surprising things she'd learned, and she said, "It's possible to function without drinking coffee... and that my grocery bills are about one-fourth of what they were before, and that I am eating better and enjoying food more than ever."

BTW, she said that one of the group dropped out in less than a month, unwilling to give up take-out meals; one made it through the summer but claimed not have time to preserve anything for winter usage; the others not only stuck with their challenge, at the one year anniversary they threw a victory dinner for the book club -all local foods of course.

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    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 12:03PM
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Coffee would be my downfall -

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 12:47PM
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I think it's pretty impressive too but I would have never doubted for a minute it wasn't possible. Think of the funds that pumped into her local economy, too.

You know, it hasn't been so long ago that the 100 mile rule was matter of fact. I remember applesauce and cole slaw replacing salads at my folk's table in the winter months and it was just the way it was. It tends to work that way at my house as well most times.

We had things like orange juice on occasion, and certainly tea and olive oil and sugar, as did most folks but they were things one could not produce in our area at any time of year and were a small part of our diet. On my in-law's farm sorghum and honey replaced sugar and I think the only items they purchased not home produced were coffee, salt and flour and suspect if they could have afforded a grain mill wouldn't have bought flour.

The state of affairs now, even if food is domestically produced (and at least 40% of it isn't) is monoculture. Remember the pumpkin shortage of two years ago? Good grief, there aren't too many states of the union where pumpkins can't be produced, but there are only one or two companies who supply the whole market and their fields are in one state. When they lost that crop to floods it was a nation-wide shortage.

That's why I really mourned the loss of support for family farming and small farms in particular. You can multiply that a thousand times with my concern of global food production with a world's supply of certain items coming from one geographical area. It's why the rain forest is falling to agriculture and why people in food producing nations in the third world are starving anyway.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 3:56PM
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I agree, it is impressive. Yes, the coffee and also the tea would be difficult. And beef would be a challenge for DH. Not many cattle roaming around in Silicon Valley. Plenty of chips, but few cow chips. We do have some rice farms around, and they grow mostly brown and wild rice.

I'd be in the pink, because we have plenty of fresh local seafood and veggies.
It's been a fun to think about how it could be done around here.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 6:53PM
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Could be done around here too, but you would need transportation, no public transportation available. The big problems, tea and coffee and of course sugar.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 7:16PM
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Oh, sugar or sugar crystals. Buy local farmer's honey, leave honey container in the sun, crystals will form. Don't like the crystals, warm the honey and it will flow.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 7:56PM
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tibs(5/6 OH)

We could do it pretty easily (except for the coffee of course) but I am in a farming area, lots of Amish with all kinds of stuff. Doubt if we would lose any weight - we have all kinds of cheeses made locally and butcher shops that make their own sausage and bacon.

We have auctions where I could buy loads of local produce to can/freeze - I just don't think I have the drive to do as much as we would need for the winter. Sitting on my counter under an old towel is a crock(small 2 heads of cabbage) of 'krout in the making. I don't think I would want to make much more than that.

I hve locally grown beef in the freezer, think I will be getting chicens from the same source.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 8:40PM
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"Not many cattle roaming around in Silicon Valley. Plenty of chips, but few cow chips." Ah geeze thanks, you made me spit my tea out on my new keyboard.

I'll never forget making kraut one year when I had so much cabbage I didn't know what to do with it. My daughter brought her new boyfriend home so we could meet him. Neither knew I had pulled the kraut crock into the kitchen and tucked it into the hearth and we had just gotten used to the aroma of newly fermenting cabbage and didn't notice it much.

I could tell she was embarrassed and he was uneasy and it took a few minutes before it dawned on me my kitchen must've smelt to high heaven. When I showed it to them both burst out laughing. It's those first couple days until the fermentation gets going good, but man is it ripe.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 9:35PM
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I just realized that in a way my coffee is withib tghe 100 mile radius, the coffee roasting is done 45 miles from my home, and it is not coffee until it's roasted, I think that would count?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 7:04PM
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Lol, lilod, I like your thinking. I can live with that.

BTW, expanding the thinking to "buy American" the only "grown" coffee I know about in the US, is Kona Coffee. It is absolutely the best coffee I've ever had, but it is so expensive.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 8:06PM
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I buy bulk coffee from the Thanksgiving Coffee Company (my 45 mile radius) and all their bulk products are the same price,
I usually blend Rwanda, Mocha Java and Kona in equal proportions. I do grind my beans at home, generally about five days worth

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 12:45AM
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mrobbins(6b - Brooklyn)

The book your friend was reading was Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. A great book, and the family has kept going, posting more recipes and resources at their website. I like the way she calls this time of year "Tomato Season."

This weekend I went with my professor to Western Massachusetts. We visited my uncle, and I made a potato salad with what he had in the fridge -- new potatoes, hardboiled eggs, celery, red pepper, radishes, green beans, capers, shallots, scallions, mayonnaise, mustard. Added some olive oil too. My uncle had picked up fresh corn and tomatoes from a local farm stand so we sliced and salted the tomatoes, and just boiled the corn -- didn't even need butter. We added some fresh mesclun to the plate and ate it all up, and boy was it good. We felt good for hours afterwards. Good fresh local (except for the olive oil and capers, which are from southern regions) food. Watermelon for dessert. Ahhhh.

Here is a link that might be useful: Animal Vegetable Miracle

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 2:43PM
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What a wonderful meal and it's one reason, living in a temperate zone I love summer so much. Our diet changes radically from season to season.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 4:37PM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

I agree that eating seasonally enhances the pleasure of local foods... if the only strawberries or melons you eat are when they are fresh off the local vine, and you haven't tasted them for a year, the flavors are amazing.

Not being a coffee drinker, I wouldn't miss it, but I'd surely miss the orange pekoe tea I like to drink year round. I would also miss wheat flour, bread yeast, salt, and mushrooms. That is, I haven't found any source *producing* those items within 100 miles. Even though local orchards and farms are within range, that 100 miles is awfully skinny if one applies it to growing/harvesting as opposed to processing/distribution.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 11:35AM
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