Success-The 100-Mile Diet

Smith A, MacKinnon JB. 2007. The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating. Toronto (ONT): Vintage Canada.

 

I’ve loved ice-cream ever since I was a kid, it always been my weakness. But I never realized, there was a way I could be getting more out of my ice cream; eating tastier, healthier, and more environmentally friendly!! The 100-Mile diet by Alisa Smith and J.B Mackinnon inspires a beautiful connection with the food sources your good be supporting. This evening I presented my very own local dish at a class dinner. Mmm…pumpkin ice-cream!

 

I started my ice cream by finding a locally sourced plant based product. I had some pumpkin puree in my freezer from the local dunes berry pumpkin farm only a few minutes down the road from my house. I roasted the pumpkin and blended it up, with no need for any additives like the puree you would find in the store. My second ingredient was locally produced cream from Blackwell dairy farm. This dairy farm is located only 45 minutes away from my house, and you can buy the products from the local Coopers supermarket. For the sweetness ice cream needs, I found locally produced honey also at the supermarket. The honey came from Westsyde Apiaries only 5 minutes down the road. My meal was complete!

 

Hmm… but eliminating imported ingredients like vanilla and cinnamon really eliminates that zip! This ice-cream needed a little something. I activated my horticulture senses and then it came to me….Mint! A fresh sprig of mint propagated from the TRU greenhouses, and grown my windowsill, was the perfect addition to this eat local desert.

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Only 25 minutes in the ice-cream maker and I was good to go! Local food isn’t as hard as you would think! I compared a spoonful of my home-made ice-cream, and compared to store-bought vanilla and I was extremely surprised! Mine had a better texture, tasted like real cream, and the sweetness of honey tasted fresh. I felt good inside and out. Iv’e never had ice-cream more satisfying. The store-bought ice cream tasted like the any remaining milk products were highly processed and unnatural. The sugar tasted dirty!! I will honestly never go back to this so called ice cream in the store!

 

The desert section at the dinner was my favourite part. I think the blend of all the fresh fruits, cakes and creams was AMAZING! I was blown away at the amazing job everyone did.

 

I honestly haven’t finished the entire book yet, and with this busy semester I really don’t have time! But the first half that I completed was full of great ideas. Alisa is a great writer but J.B’s side is a bit dry. Throughout my eat local project, I have definitely increased my contribution to supporting local farmers. When I get a chance to finish the book,”100 Mile-diet” I can’t wait to find out more strategies to support local food!

Try it for yourself!

 

Homemade Pumpkin Ice-Cream Recipe

 

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups Blackwell Dairy Farm Cream(18%)

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cups raw honey

Mint Leaf to garnish

 

Instructions

 

1) Whisk first three ingredients together in bowl.

2) Pour ingredients into ice cream maker. 

3) Garnish with mint leaf to serve. 

 

 

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We’ve always loved variety. Why not farm that way?

This week’s reading is by my favourite author, Michael Pollan. I had the pleasure of experiencing his books for the first time this year. It has been a positive impact on my diet nutritionally and deepened my connection with the food I eat. This week I got to read “Omnivore’s Dilemma”. I finished part 2 of this book, focusing on pastoral grass. I read chapters 10-14, they were all enjoyable but my favourite chapter was 11, “The Animals: Practising Complexity”. I learned how to greatly appreciate the unique and rarely acknowledged symbiotic relationships between animals, plants and humans on a farm. Pollan gathers valuable and wise knowledge while personally getting to know polyfarmer, Joel Salatin, a man I’ve admired for a few years ever since I saw his appearance on Food inc. Michael gets to work with Joel on the farm and get intimate with important species that help produce food for humans. Joel helps Michael explain some of the ways buying local food, can allow you to see these important symbiotic relationships for yourself, forming a deeper, personal, and satisfying connection to the food you’re eating.

 

I really enjoy how Pollans writing uses imagery. He does this by explaining specific details about his surroundings, creating an image in your mind of what he is experiencing. Pollan writes in such a way that introduces his topics by completely engaging and mesmerizing his reader.  He creates a scene for his readers; page 186, “When one of his cows moves into a new paddock, she doesn’t just see the color green; she doesn’t even see grass. She sees, out of the corner of her eye, this nice tuft of white clover, the emerald-green one over there with the heart-shaped leaves….the cow opens her meaty wet lips, curls her sandpaper tongue around the bunched clover like a fat rope, and with the pleasing sound of tearing foliage, rips the tender mouthful of leaves from the crown.”

This quote makes natural agriculture systems seem so simple. But as Pollan titled one of the chapters, “practising complexity” it must not all be simple. A successful polyfarm includes a variety of species that have interdependence on one another. Pollan got to witness cattle up close, grazing on all sorts of grass species growing in Joel’s so called, “sunfarm”. The sunfarm is one way(the only way until fuel came along) energy is captured, turning it into food energy for humans. There are a variety of species involved in this chain of events in which solar energy is captured. This chain involves 3 primary species, cattle, grasses, and humans. Joel explains how he captures the sun’s energy through the grass in his pasture. The cows will eat the grass, and stomp their manure back into the soil to (reducing carbon emissions and fertilizing their food source). The humans  will move the herd of cattle around the pasture in a cycle, they shouldn’t stay in one spot for too long. They’re always looking for their favourite grasses; so they grass needs a chance to re-establish its own energy before it transfers more to the cow(very important cows have lots of space to graze because overgrazing in one area leads to depletion of root systems because grass energy is constantly being used). Once they have consumed enough energy, then it’s time for the humans to enjoy a meal. Cows have rumens, allowing them to digest cellulose in grass. Humans aren’t capable of digesting cellulose, therefore we get our energy directly from the cow. Throughout this chapter, I really enjoyed acknowledging this chain of events of capturing this sustainable source of sun energy that provides the food I eat.

 

Pollan introduced me to something I haven’t explored much. He taught me one way that  farmers can increase quality of their chicken products, save on cost of production(saving consumers money too), and help save the environment all at once! Having multiple species on a farm allows the organisms to benefit from one another. On page 214, “In nature there is no such thing as a waste problem, since one creatures waste becomes another creatures lunch. What could be more efficient than turning cow pies into eggs?” Nowadays conventional ways of farming leave excess manure that needs to be treated. But on a polyfarm, chickens will enjoy feasting on grubs in the cow manure, which will increase the flavour and nutrient content of the eggs they produce, or the meat they will become. Chickens will also scratch the manure into the ground with their feet as they are eating grubs. This will provide a free fertilizer for the pasture, that will benefit the grass with a plethora of nutrients, allowing it to grow healthily to supply the energy for the cow. I never realized what a wonderful cycle this could be! This weeks reading really made me realize connecting with the animals that you eat, and acknowledging these natural agricultural systems, is a really phenomenal feeling, that I think everyone should have the pleasure of experiencing. 

 

Fulfilling Our Human Desires

I always enjoy Michael Pollan’s writing. He has a way of engaging the reader, mesmerizing us with his interesting botanical facts and personal stories we can relate too. He makes me feel connected to his topics and relate to his personal experiences. I really enjoy his stories, it is as if you can feel the emotions he’s experiencing as he tells it. This week, I had the pleasure of reading Chapter 3 of Michael Pollan’s book, “Botany of Desire.” The theme of this chapter is “Desire: Intoxication, Plant: Marijuana.”

 

We have all experienced desire for an escape, an altered experience of the world, an altered state of consciousness. Even young children can hold this desire. Do you ever remember spinning violently in circles when you were young? Maybe you were seeking sugar on a daily basis? These are prime examples of how humans begin to desire an altered state of consciousness at an early age. Is this normal? I think so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But think about it.

 

How often do you see adults spinning violently in circles?

 

How do they fulfil their desire for intoxication?

 

Pollan shares some facts and personal stories, about the ways humans fulfil their intoxication desires with psychoactive plants, both today, and throughout history.

 

My favorite story Pollan told was the Peruvian Legend about the Tukano Indians discovering “Jaguar Eyes.” The Tukano Indians lived in the Amazon Jungle amongst the wild animals and plants. The Indians noticed the jaguars would act very strange, as if they were hallucinating, when they consumed the bark from the yaje vine. The Indians found this especially odd as jaguars aren’t usually herbivores. Those that followed the jaguar’s lead, also experienced an altered state of consciousness, hallucinating, seeing the world through what they called, “Jaguar’s eyes.”

 

If you can imagine what “Jaguar Eyes” must be like, you can probably imagine that not everyone desires that experience. Today, a popular plant to cause a more mild experience of altered consciousness is marijuana. Before the 1930’s, marijuana was often used medicinally to treat pain, convulsions, nausea, glaucoma, neuralgia, asthma, cramps, migraines, insomnia, and depression. Nowadays, humans commonly use marijuana recreationally. The potency has dramatically increased in the past century, most likely due to the popularity of recreational use; from 3-5%, now it’s not unusual to see over 20% potency. The effects of marijuana can vary from person to person, but generally, it will mildly impair movement, memory and emotions, making users happy, relaxed, and have a stimulated appetite. Even though growing or using this plant is illegal in a lot of places, the desire for marijuana intoxication proves powerful enough that humans still participate, disregarding the harsh legal consequences.

 

Pollan really made me realize how strong our desires for intoxication truly are. I never truly thought about how I personally started this desire very young. For me, it began with a love for ice-cream. That sugary taste (derived from plants), had me hooked the second it touched my tongue. This desire continued to evolve as I was growing up. Many day to day activities gave me an experience of altered consciousness such as meditation, exercise, horror movies, music, spicy foods, and the occasional risk, like a scary ride at the amusement park . But is this enough? Or were plants meant to fulfil the human desire for intoxication?

 

Pollan, Michael. The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s Eye View of the World. New York: Random House, 2001. Print. Pages 113-179