The Katimavik 100-Mile Diet Challenge

Today’s post was written by Fiona Tumner, our Katimavik intern.  Stay tuned for more posts from Fiona, who will be here in the office with us until December.

Can the world survive off a 100 diet?  While the concept of eating local is nothing new, the 100 mile restriction is a newer idea that has spread worldwide.    The popularization of this idea can be traced back to a Canadian book entitled “The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating” by Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon.  The book documents the journey of their entire year of eating food from within 100 miles of their home.

Some critics claim that it is simply a philosophical ideal, while others believe that it could be a sustainable solution to the global food issue.  The 100 mile diet won’t solve all the world’s food problems, but it can be a great challenge that any one person can partake in for a length of time.  The diet consists of eating only food that has been grown, produced and packed within a 100 mile radius of your dinner table.  The meals will enlighten you and make you aware of local problems and concerns facing your neighboring farms, as well as inspire you to try new foods.

I had previously had done a 100-mile diet challenge in Ontario, my home province, and now that I’m in Halifax with Katimavik, everybody in our house decided to give it a try for a week during my second week of house management.  We knew that this was going to be a massive undertaking. Being in a new province, I was unaware of Nova Scotia’s assets and limitations, so many hours of research were stretched out ahead of me in my hunt to find food for the twelve people of the house.

Throughout my research, I soon began to realize that Ontario and Nova Scotia held many resemblances – they both grow wonderful fruits and veggies of many different species.  Still, the greatest difference between the two is accessibility of the fisheries.  This is an obvious change which has impact my diet greatly by adding new types of fish each week.  We made seafood chowder from scratch, and served it with homemade biscuits.  The chowder included sustainably managed seafood from local fishermen and spices from the Annapolis valley. (Check out the recipe here: http://www.canadianliving.com/food/nova_scotia_seafood_chowder.php).   The biscuits were not light and fluffy because we were unable to use either baking soda or baking powder therefore local yeast was needed to raise them ½”.  Still all the food we prepared was edible and was received warmly – even the roasted chicken with yogurt.

However there was always the problem of finding the troublesome local oatmeal.  In the house oatmeal is eaten daily, for breakfast, lunch and midnight snacks so the lack of snack food was a problem.  The house filled with cries of “We need oatmeal,” until one day hidden away behind the other oatmeal out came Speerville New Brunswick oatmeal to save the day of complaints and groans.  It is not officially 100 mile, but everyone was thrilled by the prospect of once again snacking on oats.

Even without oatmeal there were still munchies made up every night of fruit crisp and potato skins.  That week also gave rise to premade breakfasts by the house managers of eggs, pancakes and crepes.  This did two things – it fed the crew a good strong breakfast and also kept the kitchen cleaner in the morning.  Before, there were mornings when the kitchen was covered in honey and everything was a sticky mess from top to bottom.  I am happy to say that people started doing their own dishes which made the house managers’ mornings easier.

Overall I believe that it was a great success and that farther along into the program, more of the house managers will take up the challenge, do the research and prepare the meals.

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