Thursday, December 18, 2008

Oranges Poranges. Who cares?

I’m sitting here at my computer, hot coffee at hand, waiting for my fingers and my brain to thaw enough to write properly. I’ve just come in from shovelling snow. While it is beautiful out there, I’m not impressed. Snow is rare here, which is part of the attraction of island life. It does rain a lot, but you don’t have to shovel rain. Still, I shouldn’t feel too sorry for myself. Vegas got 3.6 inches of snow overnight. I imagine they are less prepared for it than we are. I’m sure I’ll feel much more philosophical about the weather once the coffee has kicked in. Which brings me to the point of today’s post.

I can’t imagine trying to go without coffee. I usually have one cup a day, but it’s an addictive cup. Coffee-free days lead to headaches and crankiness and other unpleasantness, so I try to avoid those days. I even keep a jar of instant on hand in case of “emergency”. You know, like if the power goes out and my coffee maker won’t work and I have to resort to boiling water on the barbeque to make instant coffee. Those kinds of emergencies.

Given this dependence, I was truly astounded by the accomplishment of Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon, authors of “The 100 Mile Diet”. I recently read their book. In it they describe how they drew a 100-mile-radius circle around their Vancouver home and ate only foods from within that circle for a full year. This means no coffee or caffeine of any kind. Yikes.

I am impressed by their, good grief, I don’t even know what word to use here. Tenacity? Dedication? Determination? Resolve? Willpower? Insanity? Whatever trait kept them to their experiment, I’m sure I don’t have it. Unless it’s insanity, but I fear mine is not the same variety as the crazy determination that saw James and Alisa through to the end of their project.

When I decided to eat more locally produced food I didn’t make many specific resolutions. I certainly didn’t limit myself to food produced within 100 miles of my home, though I’m sure I could live comfortably if I did. One thing I did decide was that I wasn’t going to buy produce shipped from China. I didn’t have any particular reason for this rule. China is the fashionable scapegoat of the moment, so I randomly chose to jump on that bandwagon.

My determination to forgo Chinese produce held for a short while. Then a flyer arrived advertising organic Chinese mandarins for less than $5 per box. This flyer arrived at about the same time as a lingering head cold. I couldn’t resist. All my good intentions vanished in one giant sniffle. I managed to convince myself that the organic-ness of the oranges balanced that fact that they were better travelled than I am. Imagined images of child labourers toiling to pick and pack oranges were of no use. I had a cold. I wanted oranges. Argument over. I am now half way through my third box of Chinese mandarins. And my sixth box of Kleenex.

Even after reading their book I’m still not sure what kept Alisa and James to their self-imposed limit. How did they stick with it when they weren’t at their best and craved the foods that bring comfort? The answer may be in their blog. I haven’t spent much time there. I don’t want to discourage my novice-blogger-self through overexposure to the work of these superstars of the blogosphere. Feel free to check them out yourself though, and get back to me if you figure it out. I’m off to enjoy another orange. Sniffle.

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