Saturday, 12 April 2008

Edmonton's 100 Mile Diet and The Urban Farmer

Yesterday, CBC Edmonton hosted another one of their popular lunch time forums. The topics were right up my alley, and so I headed over to the radio station's downtown location on my lunch hour. I was eager to hear about how Ivor and Lana McKay are managing, 10 months into their commitment to eat an Edmonton-based 100 Mile Diet. Winter weather spans about 5-8 months of the year here, so eating locally under these circumstances poses certain challenges. And I was also excited to hear The Urban Farmer, Ron Berezan, speak about growing much of his family's food right in his own back and front yards, also right here in Edmonton.

I wasn't disappointed. Ivor spoke for about half an hour, talking about the joys of eating locally, capturing his own yeast to make bread, and about all the farmers and other people he and his wife and family had connected with over the course of the past 10 months. He has also been working with Edmonton-based economist David Anielski, author of 'The Economics of Happiness', to work out a business case for the frugality of eating locally, showing how food trucked in from California might boast lower price tags, but costs much more overall in terms of health and wellness when you consider the time and effects of long-distance transportation and the lower nutrient value of mass produced food.

Ivor spoke brielfly about food security as well, noting that there is only 3 days' worth of food in the city for everyone, if the delivery system were to be shut down, for example, due to a pandemic breakout in the US. He briefly mentioned 'peak oil' as well, which was the first time I think I've heard this term actually mentioned on a mainstream radio station. Ivor and his wife plan to continue their 100 mile diet, with the addition of a few non-local things, such as canola and olive oil, as well as vinegar and ginger. And they are working with co-presenter Ron Berezan to start a permaculture garden, recuding the miles their food travels even more.

In the second half of the forum, Ron Berezan spoke about permaculture, and how even apartment dwellers can grow some of their own food, on their balconies and in containers. He showed pictures of his own back yard, which resembles a small, dense forest in some areas, and lush sunny areas in others. Much to my surprise, he says that Edmonton has the most community gardens in Canada - I think he said we had 65! He talked about roof top gardening and was on hand afterwards to answer the audience's gardening questions.

In the question period after the presentations, I suprised myself by volunteering a comment about how community supported agriculture farms are also a good way to eat locally and support local farmers. At least that's what I think I said. I was pretty nervous!

All in all, it was a great Friday!

Picture of echinacea flowers from The Urban Farmer's urban farm!


Hazel Nut said...

Perhaps with global warming the 100 mile diet in Edmonton will be less challenging.

Theresa said...

Sadly, you could be right.

Amber said...

Hi there. I've recently discovered your blog and it's been so wonderful to read your posts! I thought you might be interested in this article in the Toronto star today that mentions peak oil and debunks the idea that the Bakken oil formation will resolve our energy woes.
Love your blog! Thank you.

Theresa said...

Hi Amber - thanks for coming by, and for the very kind words :)

I will certainly check out that article!

kale for sale said...

I love going to and hearing about people talking in the public forum about eating locally, food security, local economies, the creative process - all of it. Thanks for writing about it.