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Thursday, 16 July 2015

Day 12 - Eating Clean Mini Challenge

Day 12 Eat local foods – Eat at least 1 locally grown or raised food at each meal. This includes, but is not limited to: fruits, vegetables, eggs, grains, nuts, meats, and sweeteners like honey.

I’ve become such a big fan of eating local foods and supporting local farmers who, frankly, do a much better job than all those big factory farms! Grocery shopping os so much more fun at the local market, the kids enjoy it and I look forward to it every Saturday morning!  This week Gord and I were up in Parksville and picked up some local produce from the root cellar in Coombs as well as the big Tuesday market in town!  I just love the atmosphere of the market and the produce is so much more fresh and flavourful!
I don’t think it is realistic for anyone to eat locally 100% of the time, but it is certainly possible to incorporate some local foods into our diets every week.  Did you know that the produce in the supermarket (whether it is organic or conventional) travels, on average, 1,500 miles from the farm to your plate? Not only is all that travel taxing on the environment, but it also gives the produce a chance to lose some of its nutritional value along the way. And the varieties of produce chosen to go on such an adventure are limited because factory farms are only interested in fruits and vegetables that travel well and can survive a long shelf life. That's why when you grow a tomato in your home garden it tastes so sweet, most tomatoes in stores ripen unnaturally and fruit is often picked before it is ripe too.  
So here is tomorrows mini eating clean challenge, which starts on Friday:
Mini-Challenge Day 12: Eat at least 1 locally grown or raised food at each meal. This includes, but is not limited to: fruits, vegetables, eggs, grains, nuts, meats, and sweeteners like honey.
To give you a better idea of how many varieties of produce we are really missing out on when we shop at the grocery store I want to share an interesting fact from the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which is about a family who ate almost 100% local (off their own farm and from other surrounding farms) for an entire year:
“According to Indian crop ecologist Vandana Shiva, humans have eaten some 80,000 plant species in our history. After recent precipitous changes, three-quarters of all human food now comes from just eight species, with the field quickly narrowing down to genetically modified corn, soy, and canola.”
Another intriguing tidbit from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is about the reaction of some kids when they learned that their food is grown in dirt:
“Malcolm liked hanging around when Steven was working in the garden, but predictably enough, had a love-hate thing with the idea of the vegetables touching the dirt. The first time he watched Steven pull long, orange carrots out of the ground, he demanded: ‘How’d you get them in there?”
“Absence of [knowing how foods grow] has rendered us a nation of wary label-readers, oddly uneasy in our obligate relationship with the things we eat. We call our food animals by different names after they’re dead, presumably sparing ourselves any vision of the beefs and porks running around on actual hooves. Our words for unhealthy contamination – ‘soiled’ or ‘dirty’ – suggest that if we really knew the number-one ingredient of a garden, we’d all head straight into therapy. I used to take my children’s friends out to the garden to warm them up to the idea of eating vegetables, but this strategy sometimes backfired: they’d back away slowly saying, ‘Oh man, those things touched dirt!’ Adults do the same by pretending it all comes from the clean, well-lighted grocery store.”
Asher in the backyard garden
under a huge rhubarb leaf!

So how’s that for “food for thought?” How many of your kids know where their food comes from and how it got to the supermarket in the first place? While I am a big fan of buying locally I also love the idea of growing our own food locally…as in our own backyard. There is no carbon footprint whatsoever when you grow it yourself, and this is the perfect time of year to have a summer garden (at least where we live!). And growing your own fruits and vegetables can actually be a rather simple process if you start small. All you need is a pot, some dirt, a plant, some organic fertilizer, and a little TLC. In fact, you can even skip the pot and just cut open the top of the bag of soil and plop a tomato plant right in the dirt if you want. There is no better way to learn about what it takes to grown your own food than doing it yourself. It can actually be kind of fun and rewarding as well.

Asher picking raspberries which grow
on the side of our house!

When Gord and I first moved into a basement suit at age 21 my love of gardening blossomed.  I'd never really gardened much other than helping pull weeds at my parents home but for some reason I decided to start container gardening on our patio. When we moved into our first home I had a small garden that did very well with the peas, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower I planted.  I learned as I went and made many mistakes. Now I have a backyard garden in addition to a garden I co-share with my in-laws which I have dubbed In-law gardens.  I grow a larger variety of vegetables and fruits in both gardens now that I have more room.  I've made many many mistakes along the way and really learned what grows well and when to plant certain things when.

The best part is teaching my kids where food comes from, and appreciating the different shapes and sizes, clouds and varieties the fruits and vegetables come in.  I have grown so many varieties of tomatoes and my kids love them all from purple to green, yellow to red they aren't afraid to try something new if mom has grown it for them!  
As we’ve discussed locally grown food
products not only support local farmers and are more nutritious, but they are much better for our environment as well. Aside from having to travel far distances from the farm to your plate an unbelievable amount of fossil fuels are utilized throughout the entire growing process at factory farms. Forget our gas guzzling SUVs…nothing sums up just how much energy is actually used to grow, fertilize, harvest, pack, and ship produce all over the world better than one last quote from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle:
“If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week, any meal, composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week. … Small changes in buying habits can make big differences.”
So Yes you can make a difference with your small changes!
One of this years pickings from in-law gardens

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