“The real pleasure is not just the delicious food one gets to eat, but the abundance of new relationships that are formed, the growing knowledge of where I live — the people and the geography of where I live,” -Bill McKibben (Addison County Independent, 2007)
Our transition town group recently hosted Bill McKibben to talk about his experience eating only local foods from within 100 miles for roughly a year. Though he embarked on this journey nearly two decades ago, it is perhaps even more relevant today.
A nice turnout for the meeting with 18 folks joining us online and 25 people in person at the Community Center. This meeting can be watched online, thanks to Angelike Contis and the team at Mt. Mansfield Community TV; use this link:
I’ll include a few tidbits here:
At the time of McKibben’s 100-mile experiment, the localvore movement was gaining hold, and CSAs and farmer’s markets were increasing in Vermont and beyond. While the commitment to eating local foods took time and effort, McKibben said it had its rewards, including getting to know more farmers in the Champlain Valley.
He said, “we never ran out of interesting things to eat” including fish (from hydroponic systems), root crops, cheese, maple syrup and honey, among other things. As the main cook in his family, McKibben allowed himself the ‘Marco Polo rule’ using salt and spices from afar.
He said the hardest part was obtaining grain for bread. Luckily, Ben Gleason of Cornwall, was just bringing back grain growing in Vermont during that time. Gleason was also supplying Otter Creek Beer, adding some libational pleasure to the yearlong experiment.
McKibben touched upon alternative energy and climate change in the talk, saying the latter is a growing danger to our food supply. He sees time running short, saying “the most important thing an individual can do is become less an individual; join together with others in movements large enough to make changes...”
McKibben shared a question he once asked farmer/politician Dave Zuckerman around how long he thought it would it take for Vermont to become food self-sufficient. Zuckerman responded by saying six months (if we really needed to!)
Following the talk, those of us present including one young farmer, seasoned homesteaders, gardeners and activated citizens alike, conversed about the many aspects of trying to localize our food. Going home, I stepped out into the full moon night, dreaming of the possibilities....
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