Friday, 13 July 2007

Eat Local Challenge: Mid Month Report

We have been learning a lot about our local 'foodshed' in our efforts to eat more locally this month. I never knew there were so many delicious things to eat in our own backyard!

Literally speaking, our little backyard garden has really started to take off now that the weather is warm (hot, even). Our guinea pigs have probably been eating the most locally of all of us these days - they get lettuce, spinach and oatgrass from the garden, Italian and curly leaf parsely from the herb patch, and carrots and cucumbers from the farmer's market. They go crazy for the oat grass - I will be growing this indoors for them in the winter I think!

My sister and I shared a mostly local salad last weekend, with lettuce and tiny radishes from the garden, and carrots from the market. I threw some almonds and raisins in there that were not local, and the salad dressing wasn't local either. It makes for a neat experience going out and picking your own fresh salad greens though - I find I appreciate the food much more when I have been gleefully watching the little sprouts get big enough to pick. I appreciate it too, when I can chat with the farmers at the farmers markets who've grown food for me to eat. Two of my favorite producers so far have been the folks at Erdmann's Gardens and at Riverbend Gardens.

Our shopping trips to the grocery store have also been different experiences, now that we are checking to see where everything is made. We want to limit ourselves to buying produce grown in North America only, preferably Canada, and preferentially still, Alberta. The closer the better. We have made some good local finds, such as cucumbers and bell peppers grown in Lacombe, AB (Pic-n-Pac Produce), pea butter made in Legal, AB and organic honey from Three Hills, AB. We have also started buying So Nice soymilk made in BC, instead of its American made counterpart. There are also lots of BC apples available, but you have to be careful and look at the sticker to make sure you aren't getting the New Zealand equivalent. The stores are not very careful about labelling the country-of-origin on their bin signs, I've noticed.

There have been some things we have given up, like grapes from Mexico and bananas from Equador. So far we have not been able to give up grapefruit, which are currently supplied from South Africa, but we have at least reduced how often we eat these.

Another interesting thing I found out is about sugar. For a while now I've been buying Rogers Organic Sugar, and feeling a bit smug about it I suppose. It turns out that this sugar is cane sugar imported from Cuba, whereas the good old regular white granulated sugar comes from sugar beets in Taber, Alberta, and isn't whitened with bone char or anything! So, I'm going back to the white stuff. Although I am still trying to use less refined sugar and more honey overall.

We encourage everyone to check out their local farmer's markets!

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