We are tryng to eat local in the middle of winter. When it is -20 and snowy outside, that is a challenge. A couple of years ago I read Barbara Kingsolver's 'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle'. This was her family's story of moving from Arizona to a small farm in New England and eating local for a year. When they made the move in February, they had to connect to their neighbours and producers at the Farmer's Markets in order to find local food.
I think we have to define 'local' for ourselves. For me, it has a variety of definitions and distances. The best one I think of is the Zero Mile diet, that is food from our own garden or wildcrafted from our own property. This means there are zero food miles to get this food to the table. This week that includes: little multipier onions and some decent garlic bulbs that we grew and are still good, a few carrots from the bottom of the crisper, a jar of applesauce from our Heyer #12 trees in the back yard, zucchini pickles, frozen saskatoons (lots of those), dried herbs - rosemary, parsley, oregano, thyme, sage, plus some dried nettles that are pretty good in a soup, raspberry jam from our own patch on the farm, and lots of good potatoes, both red and white.
The next category is food from Alberta - some really sweet organic carrots from Lunds in Innisfail, wheat from Vulcan area, ground into flour, frozen corn from Taber, organic bison from Rocky Mountain House, eggs from near Calgary, Elk roast from Hinton, from Eldon`s hunt in November.
One staple I count on is my store of tomatoes that I bought at the Crossroads Market and canned in September. I am resisting buying any fresh tomatoes until the new ones come in from the local growers in June.
Other foods are from farther away - packaged cereal, flour, sugar, coffee, nuts, seeds and dried fruits, bread, condiments, fresh fruit, broccoli. We do buy bulk grains as well as nuts, seeds and dried fruits once a year in a cooperative.
So when I try to estimate how much of our diet is `local`, I would guess maybe 50%. It is hard to tell. Some meals are more, some less. But I think the point is to at least make an attempt to cut back the food miles to get food to our plate. We reduce the energy required to bring the food to us, and we also encourage local growers.
It is a discipline as well as a considerable time factor to eat fresh and local food.
Now if I could just start making bread again from scratch!