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FiTV - Fiona Gardiner
2010-08-27 at 11:54

Local food focus of TV documentary

Recently, the True North Community Co-operative opened in the Bay Street area offering products from local producers.  It’s part of the push to reduce our carbon footprint and support local business – a sentiment that is growing in Canadian communities and has even shown up on TV.

The 100 Mile Challenge is a documentary series in which several families in the town of Mission, B.C., eat and drink only those items produced within a 100-mile radius for 100 days. 

At first glance, it just sounds like a little extra work and slightly limited diets. But even on the first day, the participants are stumped.

Time to toss the breakfast cereal.  And where did they get that milk, jam, bacon, and bread?
Local fruits and veggies seem fairly easy.  But where do you find salt, spices, and wheat? 

Forget sugar cane plants in Canada.  So everyone searches for local beekeepers instead. 

They can hunt and fish for protein, but do so without their morning coffee fix. – Juan Valdez has failed to move into the neighbourhood.

Beyond buying local, the families are also leaning to be more self-sufficient.  Fortunately, one family already lives on their own farm.  Another couple owns the local green grocery. And by teaming up, these Challenge guinea pigs can make their own bread, create their own recipes, and have magnificent community meals together.

While it sounds wonderfully Capra-esque, I wonder if society has simply gone too far in the other direction to sustain this kind of “local” lifestyle. 

I rarely eat out or buy pre-packaged meals.  I like to cook and find it a lot healthier and cheaper on my budget. But I don’t have time to find a local wheat supplier, plant an herb garden, and churn out some butter to make my own bread. 

Of course, due to a broken pipe, my kitchen is also partially disassembled at the moment.  So I’m spending as little time in there as possible.

I also won’t give up my Asian green tea.  And unless General Foods lets me move in, I’m not likely to acquire the secret of Fibre One cereal. 

But the 100 Mile Challengers prove a point.  It takes the cooperation of local farmers, grocers, and yes, community members to make this workable on a day-to-day basis.  Having to actually work for what we eat makes us more aware of what we’re putting in our mouths.  It’s also obviously a healthier way to live.  (None of the families learned to make chemical preservatives during the experiment.) 

Perhaps if we start out small – like a visit to the market – we can make a difference in our community, our health, and our environment.  And if you can find a local green tea producer, I’m on board.





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