Local Food Spot Check

Tonight I decided to see how much food in my house right now is local, regional or even from my own country. This was a spur-of-the-moment decision so I had no chance to prepare to be virtuous! I am providing a real-time snapshot. I realized right away that I might talk the talk, but I don’t walk the walk. I was not impressed with myself when I realized how many foods weren’t labelled by place name, and I didn’t hesitate to buy them. This has been a wake-up call!

I am also embarrassed by the sheer number of different foods I have in the house. Although, in my defense, I do cook daily and virtually nothing will go to waste.

I have included all the foods that I would count as  fresh, real foods or ingredients; and pantry staples, but few prepared or processed foods. I try to keep those to a minimum but I have pasta, crackers, cereal, ice cream and candy!

Here’s the breakdown:

String beans

From the homes and gardens of people I actually know (therefore grown and made very locally):

  • string beans (frozen)
  • strawberry jam
  • maple syrup
  • applesauce
  • tomato sauce
  • pickled beets
  • green tomato chow
  • pickles (cucumber)
  • wine (rhubarb, currant, etc.)

Blueberries

Grown in my region (Atlantic Canada):

  • apples
  • wild blueberries (frozen)
  • strawberries (frozen)
  • pumpkin puree (frozen)
  • pear jam (from farmers’ market)
  • pepper jelly (from farmers’ market)
  • potatoes
  • carrots
  • onions
  • parsnips
  • cauliflower
  • milk
  • butter
  • honey

Uncooked wild rice

Canadian grown or made:

  • Brussels sprouts (frozen)
  • bell peppers
  • mushrooms
  • cheese
  • eggs
  • soy milk
  • flour
  • oats
  • barley
  • wild rice

Walnuts

US grown (our nearest neighbour):

  • oranges
  • raspberries (frozen)
  • peaches (frozen)
  • garlic
  • parsley
  • romaine lettuce
  • lima beans (frozen)
  • hazel nuts
  • walnuts
  • raisins
  • organic canola oil

Italian Kiwi

International:

  • kiwi fruit (Italy) – I just tried Canadian Arctic kiwi for the first time last week!
  • arborio rice (Italy)
  • mandarin oranges, canned (China)
  • green onions (Mexico)
  • olive oil (Greece)
  • sea salt (France)

Coffee (oh how I love thee)

Unknown:

  • sweet potato
  • ginger
  • broccoli
  • zucchini
  • diced tomatoes (canned)
  • peas (frozen)
  • mixed cubed vegetables (frozen)
  • French fries (frozen)
  • spinach (frozen)
  • peanut butter (peanuts only)
  • white sugar
  • brown sugar
  • white rice
  • brown rice
  • millet
  • quinoa
  • mung beans
  • lentils
  • popcorn
  • kidney beans (canned)
  • chick peas (canned)
  • baked beans (canned)
  • cashews
  • dried cranberries
  • coffee
  • tea

This exercise gave me some ideas for going forward. I buy some basics at Bulk Barn, and they do label their bins with the country of origin, so next time I can make note of them.  A lot of products say they are packaged or processed in Canada, but that is not a comment on where they came from. My marmalade was made in Canada but with whose oranges, grapefruit and lemons? Items labelled Canada A (grade A) meet our specifications but that doesn’t mean they’re grown here, either.  All store-brand canned, bottled and frozen products have no place names on them. I can understand why – this allows them to source their ingredients from anywhere depending on cost. They only label products if it’s a selling point, such as my 100% Canadian Brussels sprouts (who knew?)

As the book The 100-Mile Diet made clear, buying within a 100-mile radius would leave me without grains, and I would be limited to root vegetables all winter. No thanks! I am thankful for globalization when it comes to eating. I just want to support my local growers whenever there is a choice. So I choose to eat more apples and fewer mangoes, but also to buy coffee.

I have been changing my ways gradually, for example, I use honey or maple syrup in recipes more now  instead of sugar; and I am baking more with blueberries and pumpkin (which are local) instead of buying imported fruit and berries.

I can see a 2013 goal coming on: to  preserve as much local, in-season food as possible to get me through the other seasons. Meanwhile, I am looking forward to eating my fresh-frozen local strawberries in January!

9 comments

  1. What a cool idea! I’ve never given much thought to where my food comes from but now I am curious. I think I will have to check this out (and become more conscious of eating locally!)

  2. Great idea – I hate to go miles to the other end of our country only to find such items as yoghurts on sale that are made only 2 miles from where I live in Yorkshire whilst in my local supermarket we cannot buy them only something that has travelled miles across five counties from down south. Everyday on our congested motorways these staple easy made items such as bread and yoghurt are being transported in heavy goods lorries backwards and forwards what madness really.

  3. I loved the show, The 100 Mile Diet- it made us think. I like it when we are able to make an entire meal from our own veg and fruit grown here on our property and add in venison or fowl that my husband has hunted (we use what he manages to get). We are lucky too, to have beehives on the property and neighbours that have maple syrup, fruit and the veg that we don’t grow. I could manage to source grains, if I had to, but would miss spices.

  4. That is a very cool idea. We try to buy as local as we can but this would be a neat exercise to see how well we do. Thanks for sharing.

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