April Fool?

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you'll have realized it's morphed from a home reno blog into one that's more focused on food and sustainability. And bacon. I really am working on the renos, and will post more soon, but really, there can only be so many pictures about drywall seams, right?

But, there will also be more posts about food and local eating and sustainability. Blame Sharon Astyk and her newest challenge: The Bulls-eye Evaluation.

This way of looking at the source of your food was developed by Sharon and her co-author Aaron Newton as a response to the popular 100-mile diet. You can read more about it here, but basically, the main issues with the 100-mile diet is that it doesn't put a greater emphasis on food closer to your home, and that for some people, 100 miles simply isn't large enough (think about someone living in New York City. Or Iqaluit). The Bulls-eye diet puts a greater emphasis on sourcing your food as close as possible to your home, but at the same time, doesn't impose any maximum limitation.

As much as I like the idea behind the 100-mile diet, the reality is that most people are unwilling to give up foods like coffee, tea and imported spices, not to mention foods like citrus fruits that simply will not grow in Canada in large amounts without a large investment in infrastructure: what's worse, importing citrus fruit from Florida, or building a greenhouse here to grow my own? And historically, there has always been trade in foods like this.

There are a few things I still have to figure out though, and issues I have with this diet. Based on the bulls-eye, it's "better" for me to get food from my "state", Ontario, then my nation, Canada, then everywhere else. Thus I should try to source food from, say, Thunder Bay or Vancouver, B.C., before I look outside the country. The issue with that? I live on the border. I can see the USA simply by looking out the window. So if one is going strictly on distance, the target system doesn't actually work for some of us once it gets past our region.

There are other issues that come into play, of course. As close as I am to the US, I don't actually do a lot of shopping there, and there are differences in their food safety system I'm simply not comfortable with. So, for me, this challenge will be more about keeping my food supply within the Regional boundary, with the emphasis, of course, on my home and local farmers, then skipping past state and nation and going right to everywhere else.

For me, local trumps organic/sustainable/fair trade (for example, I'll buy conventionally-grown sweet corn from a local farmer before I'll buy imported organic sweet corn), but once I hit that "everywhere else" circle, I'll try to buy only organic/sustainable/fair trade if readily available - things like spices, coffee and chocolate.

There will be some assumptions I'll have to make. For example, I know Canada is one of the largest exporters of wheat, other grains and legumes such as lentils, dry peas and chickpeas. So,  if I cannot find the information on the label, I'm going to assume these foods come from Canada. Same as milk: as far as I know, any milk sold in Ontario comes from Ontario. This doesn't hold true for other dairy products, but most of those (other than imported cheese), come from Canada.

And to make this even harder? I'm trying to do all this on a budget, of course. I'm hesitant to set a weekly limit, but I'm thinking of somewhere around $20 a week - $10 for normal spending on perishables (milk, eggs, etc.) and $10 to go into the kitty for bulk purchases - meat, dry goods, and other things that I stock up on when they are on sale. To keep some sanity, though, I'm NOT going to do any sort of inventory of current food - what's here is here. This challenge starts from today, and anything currently in the house is grandfathered in. My challenge, my rules :)

Of course, there are some exceptions as well. This doesn't include meat for the dogs. I'm also claiming an exception for guests - that includes Dad (and other family members) when he's here working on the house, and the whole family for our monthly meals. Of course, I'll still try to source those items locally, but they don't come out of the budget.

The budget also doesn't include gardening supplies, preserving supplies (lids, etc.), any non-food purchases, or eating out (not that I eat out a lot).

Now, about the reporting. I can't think of anything more boring that reading about what someone ate each and every day, so I'm leaning more towards weekly reports on grocery buying - and I can probably work that into the Independence Days Challenge reports.

And just in case there was any doubt: the April Fool is me :)


  1. The diet is definitely an interesting concept. Sourcing food can be really complex, though. The bulls-eye, meaning the best option, is to source food from home, but what if the compost needed to enrich the soil in your backyard comes from the neighbourhood, or even from interstate? Does that mean the food grown in that backyard is still considered from home, or from another ring in the diagram? I love the simplicity of the bulls eye, but will be interesting to see how it plays out in practice.

  2. Ack! Sorry for taking so long to post this comment - I've been ignoring the blog for a while, but I won't let it happen again!

    It is a complex issue. And it's things like seeds as well - is my diet local if I buy my seed potatoes from the other side of the continent? Things like seaweed fertilizer, and "organic" pest controls, sourced from who-knows-where. I hope to post more about this in the future, so please drop back in and add to the conversation!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...