Getting Ready for the 250-Mile Diet

ledabeetscrop1.jpgOn August 7th, 2007 I will begin a year of living almost exclusively on foods grown or raised within a 250-mile radius from my home in Brooklyn, NY (yes, I’m granting myself a few exceptions. Stay tuned for a future post with The Rules). I was going to start on Aug. 6th, my birthday, but I have longstanding plans to go out to dinner that night with my friend, Ellen Zachos. Somehow a meal at a Belgian restaurant in Manhattan doesn’t seem like the way to start a year of eating locally, though it should provide an interesting contrast right at the gate.

Local is the new organic according to the press, but to be honest I was into it back when most people thought refusing to eat an out of season tomato was just weird. So this year, inspired by several excellent books written by locavores (including Gary Nabhan’s Coming Home To Eat, Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon’s Plenty), I’ve decided to take my personal enthusiasm for eating locally to the next level.

Why 250 miles? Well, I ruled out the more extreme 100-mile diet that Smith and Mackinnon did because my CSA share comes from a farm that is close to 200 miles away. I am just not willing to abandon farmer Ted Blomgren of Windflower Farms after several years of eating what he grows. I chose 250 because that is the number of miles Nabhan allowed himself during his year of eating locally. Copycat, in other words.

Why I think this will be fun at least most of the time: I love making personal connections to the food that is about to make the most personal of journeys to become part of me. For example, today I had a phone conversation with Don Lewis of Wild Hive Farm about how to bake with his locally grown and milled fresh whole grain flours. There is definitely going to be a learning curve. But hey, I have a miller now, one who is willing to share bread baking tips on the phone. How much more fun is that than a package of flour from the supermarket or even a bag from the bulk bin at the co-op? And I love to cook, so this is not about a year of hardship. I won’t give myself any brownie points for suffering during this year of local food. Quite the opposite! I should make it part of The Rules that my food has to taste good and meet my nutritional needs.

I’ll be sharing recipes, links and tips here, and my hope is that this blog will be a useful resource and inspiration for your own local eating adventures.

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