Thursday, October 14, 2010

100 mile diet check in, year three

Really, it can get annoying, people using buzz words that you or I have already decided to ignore or decide the are not applicable. And yet, the original stunt of the 100 Mile Diet authors, Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon has led Steve and I to our most thoughtful period of life.
It has opened ideas and methods and journeys that we would have otherwise missed out on. By taking a few months and trying to meet the challenge of buying as many food stuffs within a 100 mile radius of Halifax, we have discovered many things, not the least of which are 1) its easier than it sounds and 2) it is delicious.

I am not a cook, never have been, never will. Barely coped when the kids were tiny and I was cooking a different kiddy meal for the baby, one for the toddler, one for me and then a few hours later, one for Steve who had just arrived home after an hour and a half commute from work. We managed to keep our calories up, our nutrition looked after and that's about all you can say about it. That and two babies and all the groceries had to fit in side the stroller or the little red wagon when I went grocery shopping.

A few weeks ago, Steve was interviewed by a journalist student for the student newspaper and asked how much did we buy at the grocery store. He estimated between 10-20 percent of our groceries come from a large grocery store. The remaining 80-90 came from either the market, a farm market, a fair-trade coffee shop or our own garden. Two years ago, I would not have thought this possible. I would have predicted maybe 25 percent would be local. We're not talking organic or pesticide free or anything deeper than 'local'. Oops, I forgot about the Italian Market. I might be lying now. Do I include our Italian or not? Hmmm? I'll let you know.

Out of curiosity, I went through our cupboards, the fridge, the pantry and the freezer. I made a very comprehensive list and Steve's estimate came out right (haven't decided about the Italian store yet). Originally each person in the house was allowed to choose two items that were not negotiable, they had to be on the shelves, no matter how far or what method they experienced to get to our house. Lucas had cereal bars and orange juice (I think), Phoebe had tomato soup and peanut butter, Steve had coffee and cheese and I had mayonaise and chocolate. Lucas and Phoebe have moved out now so their needs are no longer an issue here.

What we buy at the major grocery stores now:

Olive oil, nuts, seeds, cheeses, some dried fruits, vinegars, baking powder and soda, some flours and grains from Speerville Mills in New Brunswick, oatcake crackers, spices, shortening, oatmeal, yeast, litter, cat food, Ezekiel Bread, Chocolate bars, occasional citrus fruit, lemon juice, tuna, mayonnaise, tomato tins, dried pasta. There is a brownie mix and a Nanaimo Bar mix that can't be beat that I sometimes indulge in because I make them up to thank the 13 boys surrounding us in student housing for being reasonable tenants each month. Toilet paper, Kleenex, personal care items are next on my list of things to change, but so far the research is dismal. I suck at Internet research.

We buy our milk, almond milk, cream, butter and sometimes a lemon yogurt from the big store but they are Atlantic Dairy products so fit the criteria of 100 miles.

Most of these items are ingredients. They are transformed into something else that we used to buy in a box or a jar – cookies, breakfast cereals, snacks, deserts, salad dressings, sauces and whatever Steve's creative brain comes up with for a main course.

What surprised me about the market is that we can get cold cuts. They are very good, far better in fact than anything the deli section has to offer. The bacon is better at the market and all the meats are superior. We can get some dairy and cheeses but frankly, they don't come up to great standards in taste and I just love cheese too much to eat bland stuff all the time.

Our Fair Trade items are teas, coffees, sugar, cooking chocolate and drinking cocoa.

OK, the Italian Market. There's nothing local about it. There's little that's organic. The only thing I can say about it is that we love Italian food and the difference between a “De Cecco” pasta and a President's Choice pasta is like the difference between a covered wagon and an electric car. There isn't anything to compare, they are different items and one is so substandard, it is to weep. There is a tinned tuna that is so good I get excited thinking about how Steve turns it into this amazing tomato/tuna sauce. There are other pasta brands that are even better than De Cecco but we do have a budget. We generally make an outing of going to the Italian Market, stock up on a months worth of dried pasta, things like artichoke hears and capers, biscotti and an Pellegrino soda I treat myself to in the summer. I know, it is naughty.

(planked salmon (local) with a bruschetta topping (all local))
But here's my logic. We are nearly vice free. Maybe a little too much scotch. Maybe a little too much chocolate. Probably too many magazines (that would be Steve) and for sure too much .....hmmm. What do we do that is excessive. Thinking! We think too much. So to support our tired brains, we needs some excellent dried pasta. That's my logic, thanks for helping me to rationalize it/formulate it.

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