Beginning April 1st I will be participating in my own Hundred Mile Challenge that will include trying to eat and buy items that are grown and produced within one hundred miles of City Hall in Philadelphia, PA. I live in Boyertown, PA, which is 50 miles northeast of the city which means my reach would be bigger but in the spirit of things I will be staying within that hundred miles from Center City. Also, I will only be purchasing my items within the state of Pennsylvania (no disrespect to NJ or DE) to stay within the parameters of my thesis project.
On this site there will be four sections; the blog, where to buy, know your farmer and know your producers. The Blog section is where you can fallow me on my journey to eating locally; this will also include recipes and tips on what to make with local flavor. Where to Buy, will have information on farmers markets, retailers and restaurants that carry local food. Know Your Farmer, will have bios and information on the farms around the area, also where you can find their product. Know Your Producer, is a section where you can get to know people who produce items that can not be grown locally, i.e. coffee, chocolate and beer.
The reason for the producers section is because there are items that we use in our every day that would have to be given up entirely if one was to only buy and consume local items, this means you would have to give up salt, pepper, oil, certain spices and so on… Now my point of this project is not to eliminate everything you use on the day-to-day but instead I am doing this to make you ask; who makes this item, where do they make it and how is it made.
So I did some research to find out where my salt comes from by first reading the label. The box of Morton Salt I have in my kitchen says, Product of Canada, so I looked up where in Canada they get their salt from. According to their, Our Locations area of the site their salt comes from all over the US, parts of Canada and a location in the Bahamas. So I went to check out another brand of salt that I use, Diamond Crystal Salt. On their packaging it says it is a product of the US but I wanted to know exactly where. I called the company and found out that their Kosher salt, which is the only variety of salt I use, is manufactured in Michigan using the evaporation method. Since it is the closest to Philadelphia I have decided to add it to my pantry. *Side Note: The company told me that they use different locations for the different variety of salts they produce. So if you use table salt, it might come from a different part of the country or even outside of it.*
The who, where and how are going to be very important throughout this challenge when straying outside the hundred mile mark for other basic items. The pepper is a big one because it comes from a region that is not only outside of Philadelphia but even outside of the Americas all together. Pepper is grown and cultivated in Asia so here it is important to know where it comes from and how it is grown. I buy most of my herbs and spices that I cannot make myself from a wholesale natural food market online called Mountain Rose Herbs because they offer bulk (which reduces packaging) organic items which some are also fair trade. The company is located Eugene, OR which means that the money spent is not going into the local economy. The reason why I go through them instead of buying from a local bulk store is they deal directly with the farms that produce the items they sell, there’s no middle man and I know how many steps it took for that item to get to me from its place of origin.
Trying to live this hundred mile life style is not going to be an easy one but I want to show people that it is possible even if you don’t live in Pennsylvania, with a bit of research there is always a way to try and find items that are locally grown, produced or help reduce the food miles from the farm to your table. It wouldn’t be called a challenge if it was easy.