Saturday, September 26, 2009

Close to the finish line

The following is a brief summary of my experience that was posted in the Imprint newspaper at the University of Waterloo last week. Hope everyone is doing better than ever!

Looking for a way to combine your desire to be a more conscious global citizen and the opportunity to include maple syrup in every meal? Sounds like a stretch I know but I’ve found the golden key in a growing movement called the 100-Mile Diet. Based on the principle that you only consume food and liquid that is grown and produced within a 100 mile radius (because 160 kms doesn’t sound as smooth) of where you live the challenge proves to limit your carbon footprint, connect you with local farmers and support your local economy.

Having caught word that the average meal in North America travels 1,500 miles to the dinner table and that a majority of the fruits and vegetable I eat can be grown in my own backyard was the fuel I needed to take this challenge head-on and do it vegan style. I’ve had a solid 7 years of practice living a nutritionally adequate diet as a vegan and maybe the fact that I’d proven my loved ones wrong and not died in the process gave me a bit more confidence than was safe to boast. While the days before the challenge flew by, emails and blogs went up about where to find local meat, eggs and dairy products and the fear began to set in. Was I in way over my head this time? Visions of a life without chocolate, caffeine, avocado rolls, hummus, bananas and rice began to haunt my weekly grocery visits.

Determined to go 100% local for the entire duration I stocked up on baby veggie sprouts, plowed through the weeds in the backyard and set up a garden and began to nurture my survival. I signed up for Baileys, a local food co-op, and in no time my fridge (there isn’t much unprocessed food that goes in the cupboard) was bursting and I was wondering what I was going to do with this cornucopia of foods, some of which I’d never even heard of. Starting one month ahead of time I stopped my purchases of foreigners and began to use up my abundance of planned WWIII food and took the final plunge on July 4th with the rest of the challenge takers.

Just as I was laughing at the simplicity of it all I heard the cruel whisper of bread and my heart stopped, or I cried, or something to the degree. This seemed like the end before the beginning as I scavenged my way through markets, health food stores and barns to find flour that was locally grown and wasn’t meant for animal feed. About one week to the challenge I found local flour and with just one lucky attempt the bread was in the oven and life was rainbows and butterflies again.

Now with just two weeks left before the challenge is over I am reflecting on the rollercoaster this challenge has taken me on. With the odd exception, most meals were made from scratch, which has left me equipped with kitchen skills I never would have learned otherwise. I now have a stronger and almost protective respect and admiration for local farmers and the traditions they have preserved over the decades of expanding imports. But the hardest part of the challenge can be summarized in the words of one of my good friends mothers on learning I was taking the challenge as a vegan ‘oh, she must be lonely’ she sighed. The life of a young 20something in University presents daily invites for social meals of which exist in restaurants that have never seen a local fruit or vegetable, something I hope this 100mile community challenge has influenced. It has been a challenge like no other I have ever taken, one that will forever influence my produce purchases. Only a few more dependency visits to St. Jacobs and October 11th will be here just in time for a Thanksgiving feast of Torfurkey and mashed potatoes (local of course).

If you are interested in hearing more about the challenge come out to the KPL Main Branch on September 29th at 7pm to hear other locavores discuss their experiences or check out these websites: – for a list of local farms and restaurants that provide local food

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

*scrape, scrape* Yup, that’s the sound of me demolishing my second 1.5kg tub of peanut butter since the challenge began. This could not have been accomplished without the nearly 80 apples (recently switching to pears) that have also been consumed in the nearing 70-day mark. Of all the benefits and surprises that have emerged from this challenge who would have thought it would help brush me up on my math skills.

As the final month is underway and the market is filling up with a growing number of foreign travelers, temptations are getting stronger and the list of “I can’t waits” is growing by the meal. Now is the perfect time to shed light on the wonderful and enlightening gifts this challenge has presented me with.

  1. As if it were possible…. I feel healthier
  2. My 13yr old hormonal skin has become baby soft and blemish free
  3. I’ve met some amazing people, shared some humorous stories on how we are surviving and have been able to educate those around me on the impact our food has on the planet
  4. My grocery bill has been cut by nearly 1/3
  5. I can now make a meal out of anything and can prepare zucchini in about 8 different ways (zucchini hash browns is now a lifer!)
  6. Less packaging!! No bags, no plastic, no cardboard (except for the odd blueberry container). Just dump it in the cloth bag or pick it straight from the garden– my kind of food!

In a months time when all is said and done and pumpkins, squash and apples (do these ever NOT grow) are my best mates I look forward to reminiscing on this awakening experience and can’t wait to sow the seeds for next years crop.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Day 57.....really.....I could have sworn this has been going on for nearly a year. This may be my least enthusiastic post since the return to 'food with fresh dirt' on it after buffeting every night in Denmark has me feeling a little bitter and full of 'rationalizing' temptation. It's like breaking up with chickpeas all over again....only this time cold-turkey.

The first few days were probably somewhere around the 65% mark. Arriving home to my parents house where 'vegan' is a stretch (although my mom tries dearly) the closest to local was the reminisce of Denmark apple on the bottom of my shoe. Just as I was stocking up again we headed camping for the weekend and I probably spent most of the next 4 days at 75%-80% local. Now I'm back at home in Waterloo and just reunited with St.Jacob's yesterday and am getting back into the groove of the challenge.

For anyone who still has yet to make a camping trip this summer here are a few recipes for the fire. When you camp with me EVERYTHING eaten must be made over the fire.

Bannock (Translation: Bun ball on a stick)
Right up there with the butter tart when it comes to native Canadian cooking ;)
4 cups of flour
1 tbsp of sweetener (syrup/applesauce - not really necessary if don't have any)
1 tsp salt
3 cups of water
Mix all the dry ingredients and then slowly add water until a little more moist then regular dough. Find a clean stick, make a ball, shove it on and roast like a marshmallow until cooked through. They taste great with jelly if you have some on hand or make some yummy buns to go with your veggie pockets and add some thyme or basil.

Veggie Pocket
Take a piece of tin foil and mold it to your fist to make a small bowl
Drizzle a small amount of sunflower oil inside
Fill with your favourite local veggies
Add fresh dill, thyme and a pinch of salt
Place in coals of the fire

(you will need a grate and pan for this)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup soy milk (if you've discovered how to make your own) I just used water
1/4 cup applesauce
Pour oil in a pan, let heat up and then add batter.

Wrap in foil, throw it in the pit :)

As a final thought, while I too was pulling on a sweater this afternoon with the cold and damp weather we had today I couldn't help but feel a little stir down deep inside that Fall was in the air. Every change in season so far has only made this challenge more bountiful and I can't wait to adventure out into the crisp air and sharp smell of fall as I go skipping through apple fields and pumpkin patches.

Sweet corn and ripe peaches to all!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Greetings from Denmark!!!

First I'd like to say thank you to Praetzel for the link on my last blog concerning protein consumption. After being vegan for so many years I am still learning new things all the time. :)

Second, I did not travel to Denmark on some fly-by-night trip to try and scavenge unusual and exotic foods to spruce up this diet......laugh if you like but the climate and food production here couldn't look any closer to South Western Ontario's. I'm right at home :)

Unfortunately (depending on how you look at it) my budget is tight and I've had to give in to the homemade cooking I've been presented with for the most part. I won't go into too much detail as I'm sure it will make a few of you boil but should I whisper falafel, hummus,rice and avocado! avocado but a girl can dream and oh how I dream.

Why am I blogging about breaking rules left, right and center? Well to bring your attention to some important information of course that I am highly confident you will be interested in as my fellow planet loving brothers and sisters. The reason for my Denmark embarkment is the attendance at the International Peoples College in Helsingor where I've been living on an Idealistic Island with some of the most passionate, beautiful and earth cherishing people from around the globe (if only I had known them before I would have asked them to bring their local delicacies so I could bring us all back something to gorge on). Here we have been living for the week sharing the challenges, injustices and guilts that climate change has laid on us all and have been working to develop a mandate of promises to present to the governments of the world in the upcoming Copenhagen Conference in December. As you have most likely come here for alternative reasons I will just leave you with a variety of thought provoking interesting and somewhat entertaining clips pertaining to the issues and activities we have been working on.

Bjorn Lomborg on where we should direct our energy and $ (AIDS? Global Warming?)
Helsinki Complaint Choir (we are creating one of our own related to the environment)

The following is a list of promises our immediate group has committed to which I hope will serve as some reflection and find some place in your own lives:

1. Through EDUCATION of ourselves and our communities we will bring AWARENESS to the issues the environment faces due to climate change.
2. We shall lead by EXAMPLE in our HOMES AND WORKPLACES by the use of green practices like recycling and saving energy.
3. We promise to CONSUME not more than we really NEED (e.g. eating less meat, using less water, sharing products – carpooling,...)
5. We will pressure our POLITICIANS to make climate change issues a top priority and integrate them into development policies (hunger, diseases, poverty, conflict, gender,...)
6. We will learn from NATURE and build upon INDIGENOUS knowledge and practices.
7. We will live HARMONIOUSLY with nature, RESPECT the Planet and never lose HOPE!

I am off to cycle through cobble streets lined with apple and apricot trees. Until we meet again much love and comforting wishes!


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hope not to disappoint anyone

I have decided that posting the following conversation can best summarize my current local state :)

Self: What is UP with how tired and moody you've been?
Self: Seriously! I have been meaning to talk to you about this. You are draggin' girl!
Self: School?
Self: Nope
Self: Lack of sleep?
Self: Nope
Self: Rain drops?
Self: Please, do you know who you are talking to? Check yo' diet!

Really, this conversation went on for a good couple of days. After analyzing my food log for the past month (really has it been a month?!) and wondering just how it is a girl can survive on such low amounts of protein I've changed up the challenge to accommodate for survival:

1) 100% local fruits
2) 100% local vegetables
3) 100% local wheat/flour grains

1) Protein dense vegan substitutes (this includes all of those fun veggie meat & dairy alternatives)

Since the majority of my diet is fruits,veggies and grains the protein substitutes should only make up on average 20% of my daily food intake leaving me 80% local for the remainder of the challenge.

I hope this new rework of my challenge has not discouraged or found disappointment in anyone. If there are any vegans out there that have been able to master the protein challenge and still live an active lifestyle please let me know!

P.s. I want to thank Henry's Tempeh (local tempeh), you have been my protein lifeline up until now.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I bet you thought I was a goner! Quite the opposite my dear friends!

I have been to the depth of temptation and am now living in a world of over-abundance I never thought this challenge would see. The weekend was spent traveling to the 3 most tempting locations imaginable to a vegan-locavore:

1) Brother's house in Toronto where vegan girlfriend has their fridge portraying a spitting image of what mine might look like if I was given a vegan shopping spree. Don't think I didn't notice the homemade vegan lemon squares


2) My favourite vegan in the world's birthday party who has a vegan chef as a boyfriend! YEAH, I KNOW! AND he's Italian! Homemade pizza from scratch, BBQ sauce, vegan sausage and vegan mozzarella....on garlic bread crust! If he wasn't so wonderful as to make me my own little dough and sauce pizza I might have died a little inside.


3) Parents house in London which regularly stocks about 13% vegan and most often this consists of mangoes, avocados and bananas.....All brought to the perfect ripeness by my sweet mother. There was half a chocolate cake (non-vegan) that sat on the counter the entire time asking me to break every single moral I own.

I DID IT!!!!! :)

And now I'm back in Waterloo rolling in an over-abundance of vegetables I've never used in creative ways that make me laugh with excitement!

Day 11 and life couldn't be better :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Today I met kohlrabi....actually he's been hanging out in my fridge for about two weeks and I haven't had the heart to cut up his sputnik physique until tonight at dinner. Was it worth it...HECK YES! Please, if you haven't tried this funny little delightful veggie give it a try. They come in purple and green so if you are looking for something to give your repetitive potato dishes some colour dice one of these up and throw it in to anything.....seriously :)

Day 3 Menu:

Cream of wheat with chopped apple and apple butter
Large spinach salad with strawberries, flax seed and maple syrup
Peanut butter sandwich on spelt bread
Asparagus with dill pickle potatoes
Rhubarb applesauce
6 Mint Medley Tea

Day 4 Menu:

Cream of Wheat with apple and maple syrup
Large spinach salad, local sprouts, strawberries and maple syrup
Potato salad with green onions, sunflower oil and fresh dill
Apple with peanut butter
Peanut butter sandwich on spelt bread
Kohlrabi, green onions, bok choy, tempeh, mustard pickles in sunflower oil with fresh herbs
Salted popcorn