Saturday, 21 August 2010

100 Mile Challenge

There's something called the "100 Mile Challenge" that I've heard a number of people get involved in, especially around this time of year, when the harvest is plentiful.  For those who haven't heard of it, the premise is to try and feed yourself and your family off of only what is grown/produced within a one-hundred mile radius of your home.  Which includes skipping out on things like coffee and chocolate since their beans aren't grown anywhere near Canada.   It helps people to really look at their "carbon footprint" or the amount of fuel and effort that goes into transporting food around the globe just for our convenience.    
Lessons aside, I must admit that unless I had a close friend up here who was a hunter-gatherer (and Inuit, making them immune to most of the restrictions on hunting) that it would in all honesty be impossible for me to be involved in something like the one-hundred mile challenge.  First off, a lot of the animals are protected and me hunting them is illegal (besides the fact that I have never in my life hunted or killed anything bigger than a frog, and I never killed the frogs I caught.  I also can't fish and even if I could, there's a limit of one char in your fridge at a time for every white household).  Secondly, I don't have enough knowledge about the land to do much with the animals/plants.    That aside, the grand majority of the food up here gets shipped in (the non-perishibles come by container ship, the perishables come by plane) from Ottawa and Montreal. 
And so that is where MOST of my food comes from, milk and eggs from Quebec, peaches and cherries from the orchards around the great lakes... you get  the idea.  The prices of everything here are high thanks to shipping costs.  So I generally ignore prices and just buy what I want/need, within reason.  But I want you to take a goooood look at the fruitbowl from my kitchen.  No, it is not my flimsy attempt at "still-life."  Anything special about the fruit??

Nope, it wasn't grown in a hot-house here.  We have a small greenhouse society, but I think they top out with tomatoes and green-beans (and I'm not even sure about those), no trees.
Anyone else think it's odd to have ripe naval oranges this time of year?  They're about 6 months away from the time that they should be ripening in north-america.  Ya, think about that for a minute.
I took a closer look at the label... and forget about the 100 mile challenge.... I challenge anyone to get a larger carbon footprint than I have just achieved!  The orange comes from.... (any guesses?  c'mon, someone must have a guess!!)  Seriously, I can't think of anywhere further from where I am right now!! Oh, and the green apple beside it is only marginally better!
Fine, I'll tell you.  The green apple is from Chile.  The orange?  It's from South Africa.  Is it not enough that we ship things 1300 km from Ottawa to Iqaluit?  Must we add many thousands of kilometers to that shipping distance?  Of course, it didn't stop me from buying the orange.  Apparently my stomach makes the decisions, not my conscience.  Anybody have fruit that's travelled farther?  

1 comment:

Esther said...

I see Chile produce here often, but I don't know if I've seen South Africa. It seems sad to me that there are people starving out there, and yet their produce is being shipped here to us (where we throw way too much of it out). Michael always checks labels, and if it was grown somewhere that far away, he just refuses to buy it, because he knows that it won't taste good, in order for it to travel that far, they have to pick it green, store it in gas chambers to keep it green and then force the ripening with more gases. i don't think he's ever been concerned about the carbon footprint aspect of it...he just lets the taste make the decision for him. granted, for him it is also about supporting his customers by buying their product, he also checks labels and chooses the stuff he's helped haul.