It has been a few years since I’ve done a really close examination of how much of our food we’re producing/getting locally/getting from elsewhere. In that time, some things have changed at our place – some of our fruit trees have begun producing, we’ve gotten more and different livestock, we’ve built relationships with some new sources. On the other hand, foster children have meant we are required to provide some purchased milk and other items we didn’t buy previously, and we also have been the beneficiaries of a lot of things given to us by our dumpster-diving buddy.
I think it is time for me to sit down and figure out what we’re eating and where it is coming from in a consistent way, and I’d like to invite others to do so too. Many years ago, Aaron Newton and I imagined “The Bullseye Diet” (see previous post) as a revision of the then-popular “100 Mile Diet” to help people think about how to bring the local into their diets – you start with the 50 yard diet (from your back steps or your kitchen garden) and move out from there. The goal is to get most of your food from the inner rings – and to rely on the outer as much as possible for luxury items, rather than things you really depend on.
Different people in different places will have very different abilities to do this – and that’s fine, this isn’t a competition. What it is is a chance for us all to compare notes on how much food we can produce on our own properties and how much we can forage and buy from nearby – and where exactly it is coming from. By pulling together regional information and how big our personal land bases are, we can get a sense of what, say, urbanites in Pheonix or suburban dwellers outside Sheboygan can grow, and what an emergent local food culture really looks like.
I’d like to invite you to join me, starting April 1, in keeping track of how much you are producing, and where the food you aren’t producing is coming from. Over the course of a year, with monthly self-analysis, we’ll take a look at what we local eaters are actually eating, where we’re getting it, what we can change and what needs work. We know that the local food movement has made enormous progress over the last few years, but how much in any given region is hard to quantify, and few regions have full local food evaluations. This isn’t that – but it is a start at collecting experiences.
It shouldn’t be too onerous to track – most of us can quickly note where our meals are coming from – and again, this is not about competing. Instead, we need to think about what would happen if we couldn’t buy everything we wanted – and tbe first steps in that are taking a good hard look at what we are really eating. But not just a hard look – this is a chance to look with pride and joy at all we’ve accomplished both personally and as communities. It is a chance to show off what we’re eating, and the delicious, local meals we’re producing. To ask ourselves about substitutes for things we buy from far away and to share our collective wisdom at finding new resources and new ways to include more vibrant local food in our diets.