Eating local / "The 100-MIle Diet"

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    Jan 15, 2010 6:15 PM GMT
    Having just watched the movie Food, Inc., let's just say I've become more "inspired" than ever to try to eat a more local diet. While I certainly have a few extra pounds to get rid of, I'm looking at this in more more wholistic light than just "weight loss". General overall health, plus all the environmental and personal benefits I might gain from this. If I happen to lose weight along the way, so be it.

    I think my main concern at the moment is that I live near the coast (Gulf Coast, southern, US). My 100 mile radius is over half water! I'm a fish and seafood LOVER, and I'm lucky to live near a huge fish market that sells mainly fresh, local fish and seafood from small-boat, local fishermen. But regardless of that, I'm more than a little concerned about the mercury levels and such. In fact, our local paper just reported the findings from an independent review of water supplies in cities and towns across the US, and they have lovingly named my town, Pensacola, Florida, as "The Worst Water In The US.". I realize this is referring to the public water supply but surely this has to carry over to our local bodies of water, which are often listed as "unsafe" to swim in during the warmer parts of the summer due to fecal bacteria. (Yum!) icon_mad.gif

    Just wondering if anyone is perhaps doing the "100-Mile Diet" or just working hard at eating local? I'm not sure it's feasible or affordable to do it 100%, ALL the time. But I'd love to try to find a local source for the things I eat most. (Chicken, beef, fish, vegetables, grains, etc.) Anyone have any tips or tricks they'd like to share? I'd love to hear any stories out there of your attempts at "eating local".

    Oh, and BTW: If you haven't seen it, PLEASE WATCH "Food Inc." AMAZING. "Propaganda" or not, I'll truthfully never look at food the same way again.

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    Jan 15, 2010 7:58 PM GMT
    look_alive said they have lovingly named my town, Pensacola, Florida, as "The Worst Water In The US.". I realize this is referring to the public water supply but surely this has to carry over to our local bodies of water

    I thought that New Orleans had claimed that title forever.
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    Jan 15, 2010 8:38 PM GMT
    TexDef07 said
    look_alive said they have lovingly named my town, Pensacola, Florida, as "The Worst Water In The US.". I realize this is referring to the public water supply but surely this has to carry over to our local bodies of water

    I thought that New Orleans had claimed that title forever.


    LOL. I wouldn't argue with that. However, I guess it's an "honor" that's assigned, rather than "claimed". :-)

    http://www.fox10tv.com/dpp/news/florida/report-states-pensacola-worst-tap-water
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    Jan 15, 2010 9:37 PM GMT
    Haven't seen the movie but just put it in my NetFlix Que. We should all be working at reducing the carbon footprint of our lives including our diet. The planet reached carrying capacity in 1937 (resource based) and rest of the world is trying to have our standard of living at 2010 levels not even 1937 standards. Actually it might be (is?) too late really. I have overload/burn out/depression on the topic since we are dealing with this big time at work. I don't mean to sound preachy but what we have coming at us (climate change) isn't going to be pretty. Basically move the North America continent 1/3 closer to the equator. Time to buy property in central British Columbia. No kidding. I have seen the computer models developed by some very brilliant people. This is likely to throw us back into feudal societies, e.g. "The Postman" or worse "The Road". Certainly will shift our population distribution, food production, economy and government over the next century and likely quite sooner. I would love to be wrong but I don't think so.
    On that depressing note (sorry) I am going to the keggerator to pour a pint and have a shot of Makers Mark.
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    Jan 15, 2010 10:41 PM GMT
    Kev, have a shot of Maker's Mark for me... big fan!

    (Not so much "local", though.) icon_cool.gif

    Speaking of carbon footprints, the movie mentions that the average meal an American eats travels over 1,500 miles to get from the source to your mouth. Eating local saves a tremendous amount of fuels, as well as being more seasonal and nutritious.
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    Jan 15, 2010 11:03 PM GMT
    OK, as we speak (so to speak) I am loading the xB (would rather that the F250) (2 Labs /3 days gear) and heading to a brew fest in Ellensburg, WA. 35mpg but not a TDI/Prius icon_sad.gif http://beeradvocate.com/events/info/11192
    Excellent event BTW w/a crew of straight old and new friend. In my meager defense I haven't got on a plane since '07 when I went to retrieve my car from the body shop after hitting a deer headed to deer camp (NO SHIT?!)

    I make a point of not driving most weekends or driving 14 miles rounnd trip to the Pub (Walking Man) and a pass by to provision at the grocery/hardware on Sat or Sunday but not both. I have a 70 mile round trip commute to work so am a tad bit of a carbon whore lo
    It's funny I couldn't wait to get off the farm growing up and guess where I landed? I do live on 408 acres and there's not ashortage of stuff to do fun or labor so no need to ever leave but for the lumber co. or hardware.

    I trim where I can. Talked to a couple vegetarians here at RJ and have a pressure cooker on the way (Amazon) to cook beans/lentils quicker. Am working on the diet thing and tele - commute 2 days a week. Tangent??? Sorry!
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    Jan 15, 2010 11:49 PM GMT
    OK, concentrates are OK to ship and have a lower footprint. Makers Mark icon_biggrin.gif qualifies as a super concentrate. Buy your vinegars and olive oils as organic concentrates unless the travel time negates the benefit. Also, your risk factor depends on your age but is inverse to your survival. Young guys take care. I was in Great Britian when they protected their beef/hide industry and I ate a lot of red meat in the UK back then. Mad cow variant may be in my future. I am nutts already so a little spongiforn encehathology (or alocoholic dementia) wont be identified. Remember "Shaun of the Dead"?? That's JK disease/their zombies are the equavelen.
  • camfer

    Posts: 892

    Jan 15, 2010 11:56 PM GMT
    It's great you are thinking about increasing your local food intake. Check out this site:

    www.localharvest.org

    you can type in your city & state or zip code and it will list local farms, CSAs, etc. (CSAs are subscriptions to a farm's produce, and if you live alone sometimes they can help you find someone to split it with.) The site has ratings, product listings, etc. It's a good site for being more of a locavore.

    Try to find a farmers market near you. When you do, talk to the vendors and find out if they're really the grower, and how they grow the food. Steer clear of the resellers, who just pose as farmers but really just buy cases of produce just like a supermarket would.

    I eat a lot of local food. I get almost all local eggs, meat, potatoes, and veggies. Fruit is harder here, just running from cherry season in July to apples through October. You will quickly be able to tell the difference between local food and supermarket food. There's a vitality to local food in season that is incredible.

    Then if you have any land available to you, consider growing some food too. There are often community gardens where you can get a little plot if you don't have any land yourself. Grow stuff you normally eat that thrives in your climate.

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    Jan 16, 2010 8:17 AM GMT
    If you are concerned about mercury and other concentrations of pollutants in your local seafood, eating lower on the food chain will help. The smaller the fish and shorter its lifespan, the lower the concentration of contaminants.
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    Jan 17, 2010 12:49 PM GMT
    look_alive saidSpeaking of carbon footprints, the movie mentions that the average meal an American eats travels over 1,500 miles to get from the source to your mouth. Eating local saves a tremendous amount of fuels, as well as being more seasonal and nutritious.


    I also saw Food, Inc. but right now I'm reading a book that's sort of the opposite, called Just Food. It basically explains why eating local isn't a feasible solution, and why food miles aren't the most important thing to think about when selecting food.

    Ultimately, transportation only accounts for about 11% of the fossil fuel energy that goes into making food. (Think: planting, watering, cultivation, etc. also take energy.) There are many scenarios where food transported from a longer distance ultimately takes less energy than local food. One example I can remember from the book are tomatoes in England. Hothouse tomatoes in England take several times more energy to grow than do tomatoes in Spain, where no hothouses are needed; though imported tomatoes from Spain travel further than local hothouse tomatoes, ultimately less energy went into producing them.

    Just Food doesn't try to deflate the environmental and "green food" movements, it just explains why global hunger and environmental concerns are far too complex to be solved with the simple "food miles" calculations.
  • camfer

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    Jan 17, 2010 1:42 PM GMT
    sexyactionnick said
    look_alive saidSpeaking of carbon footprints, the movie mentions that the average meal an American eats travels over 1,500 miles to get from the source to your mouth. Eating local saves a tremendous amount of fuels, as well as being more seasonal and nutritious.


    ...Ultimately, transportation only accounts for about 11% of the fossil fuel energy that goes into making food. (Think: planting, watering, cultivation, etc. also take energy.) There are many scenarios where food transported from a longer distance ultimately takes less energy than local food. One example I can remember from the book are tomatoes in England. Hothouse tomatoes in England take several times more energy to grow than do tomatoes in Spain, where no hothouses are needed; though imported tomatoes from Spain travel further than local hothouse tomatoes, ultimately less energy went into producing them.

    Just Food doesn't try to deflate the environmental and "green food" movements, it just explains why global hunger and environmental concerns are far too complex to be solved with the simple "food miles" calculations.


    Sure, food miles is simplistic. Ultimately creating sustainable communities with sustainable food systems makes good sense. Fossil fuel use is ultimately not sustainable, because we will exhaust supplies.

    So let's redesign the England hothouse tomato here. What if it were integrated into some other industrial operation such that it used all the waste heat of another business and used its CO2 to increase yields. What if it were integrated with an aquaponics system also run off the waste heat of the industrial operation, with the fish waste used as the nutrient input stream for the tomatoes. Now your Spanish unheated tomato transported with fossil fuels probably loses.

    The best design system I've encountered for sustainable human settlements including food production is permaculture. Check out David Holmgren, Bill Mollison, Jeff Lawton.
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    Jan 20, 2010 4:25 AM GMT
    camfer said
    Sure, food miles is simplistic. Ultimately creating sustainable communities with sustainable food systems makes good sense. Fossil fuel use is ultimately not sustainable, because we will exhaust supplies.

    So let's redesign the England hothouse tomato here. What if it were integrated into some other industrial operation such that it used all the waste heat of another business and used its CO2 to increase yields. What if it were integrated with an aquaponics system also run off the waste heat of the industrial operation, with the fish waste used as the nutrient input stream for the tomatoes. Now your Spanish unheated tomato transported with fossil fuels probably loses.

    The best design system I've encountered for sustainable human settlements including food production is permaculture. Check out David Holmgren, Bill Mollison, Jeff Lawton.


    So...if we make farms that are close by more awesome, then they will be more awesome than farms that are far away? In theory, more awesomeness is always more awesome.

    Your argument was that if if England was re-designed to be hyper-sufficient, it would beat out Spain for sustainable tomato production. James McWilliams argues that sustainability is affected by geography and weather, and some areas just can't produce certain foods as well. Which might introduce a kink to the permaculture system: What if Spain became even more hyper-efficient than England? A Godlike efficiency eclipsing Holmgren's vision of mere transcendent efficiency.

    I'll admit I haven't encountered a detailed description of "permaculture" before, but it's Wikipedia page mentions that it's core values include "an abundance of small-scale market and home gardens for food production, and a main issue was food miles." Just Food argues that farmers markets, home gardens, and food miles aren't solutions for the global food and energy problems. I don't have the book with me right now so I can't pull out any examples or quotes.
  • camfer

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    Jan 20, 2010 4:56 AM GMT
    Yes, home gardens and farmers markets are not going to feed the world. Did anyone ever think it would? I'm intimately involved in both and never thought they were the solution. But they are a part of the solution.

    Permaculture is a design system and the three ethics are clearly stated even on wikipedia, but with no detail that would make them understood by the casual reader. The line you quote is not a permaculture ethic, but a model to consider when designing, that's all. I wouldn't design my farm around that model.

    So let's say you have equally awesome farms in Spain and England. Then England doesn't really need Spain's tomatoes. Global economics being what they are today, you'd probably end up with both countries being exporters and importers of tomatoes. This happens a lot right now. Then, take fossil fuels out of the equation. Your tomatoes would rot on the sailing ships coming from Spain long before they reached England.

    Sure tomatoes grow better in warm climates. Potatoes grow better in cold climates. People like eating tomatoes and potatoes, so we've created this huge industrial food system to make it all happen. Take away the oil and it all collapses immediately.

    So does McWilliams come to any conclusion on what we ought to be designing as a future food system? I'd love to hear about that.
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    Jan 21, 2010 10:57 PM GMT
    I saw Food, Inc. a couple of weeks ago and it shook me up a little. The subsidies for producers of cheap-as-dirt-but-nutritiously-bereft ingredients make buying junk food easier and cheaper than buying decent, nutrient rich food. It's that simple.

    Did you know that farmers who are under contract to grow corn can face serious penalties if they attempt to grow other crops? This is all tied to government subsidization of corn and corn products and it's meant to squeeze out corn's competition as the prevailing ingredient in just about everything.

    Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food) says that we can begin turning this around by demanding from our government more support of farmers who are interested in producing a greater variety of wholesome foods. And even though organic and locally grown foods aren't cheap the benefits in reduced healthcare and other associated costs more than make up for it. Do you want to pay now for more high quality food, or pay later while you're lying in a hospital bed?

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    Jan 22, 2010 9:47 AM GMT
    camfer saidYes, home gardens and farmers markets are not going to feed the world. Did anyone ever think it would? I'm intimately involved in both and never thought they were the solution. But they are a part of the solution.

    Permaculture is a design system and the three ethics are clearly stated even on wikipedia, but with no detail that would make them understood by the casual reader. The line you quote is not a permaculture ethic, but a model to consider when designing, that's all. I wouldn't design my farm around that model.

    So let's say you have equally awesome farms in Spain and England. Then England doesn't really need Spain's tomatoes. Global economics being what they are today, you'd probably end up with both countries being exporters and importers of tomatoes. This happens a lot right now. Then, take fossil fuels out of the equation. Your tomatoes would rot on the sailing ships coming from Spain long before they reached England.

    Sure tomatoes grow better in warm climates. Potatoes grow better in cold climates. People like eating tomatoes and potatoes, so we've created this huge industrial food system to make it all happen. Take away the oil and it all collapses immediately.

    So does McWilliams come to any conclusion on what we ought to be designing as a future food system? I'd love to hear about that.


    I'll read your book if you'll read mine...in addition to not acting like a douche. I'm kidding, it's the internet, that's why we're here. Douche it up. I'll look for your guy at the library when I return my book.