Kathryn Rem: Family plans to try '100-Mile Diet'
It's the start of a dietary adventure for Wally Hartshorn, a computer programmer and blogger.
He’s been waiting for the start of the Old Capitol Farmers Market to begin eating only foods grown within a 100-mile radius of Springfield, Ill.
“My transformation to a locavore has been an interrupted journey,” said Hartshorn, who blogs about local foods at www.springfieldlocavore.com.
“I started increasing how much local I ate last year around the height of the growing season. But then my wife and I found out our landlord was going to be selling our house, so all our attention and focus went into finding a place to live,” he said.
The intention was there, but not the time.
Wally and stay-at-home mom Dawn Hartshorn bought a house of their own and moved in last September with their son Orlando, 4. Since then, they’ve been spending time remodeling the house.
But the warm weather has reaffirmed their intentions to go on what is called the “100-Mile Diet,” a term coined in the book “Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-Mile Diet” by Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon. It’s a way to get to know the growing seasons, understand where food comes from, be kind to the environment, strengthen community ties and get used to tasting and appreciating fresh foods.
“I’m not sure where we’ll be able to find things like flour. It’s definitely going to be a learning process,” said Hartshorn, 46. He plans to buy commodities from Springfield’s two farmers markets on a regular basis (the other one is at the Illinois State Fairgrounds), and he’s a member of a local community-supported agriculture program (CSA), where a payment to a farm yields him a share of the harvest.
His source for eggs is the James Family Farm in Sherman, and he might get chicken there, too. He’s scouting for other farms that sell directly to the public.
“For lunch, I’ll bring salads and soups to work. If we can find a local source for bread, we can have sandwiches,” said Hartshorn, who works for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
He said Dawn, a vegetarian, will adopt the eating plan, too, “as long as she can keep her chocolate.”
Like many youngsters, Orlando is “a very fussy eater. We can’t get him to eat pizza,” Hartshorn said, but he does like peas, carrots and corn. His parents are wondering how he’ll take to the new family eating plan.
“I’ll probably include meat in my diet, but not as much as I eat otherwise. I know it won’t be as convenient as getting something already prepared,” he said.
The Hartshorns’ new home has a yard; the garden will yield some vegetables. Wally wants to can and freeze food for the winter and possibly preserve food in a root cellar. But this is all new to him, and he needs to learn about storing and preserving food.
“We’re doing this, to a certain extent, for our own health. I charted my weight last year when I was eating local, and without trying I was losing weight,” he said.
His future weight loss will be just one of the things he’ll be posting on his blog. He’ll have photos of the produce he receives from his CSA share and will write about how he prepares each item. He’ll post his mistakes and frustrations, in addition to his finds and successes.
Hartshorn will talk about his quest for regional food at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at a meeting of Foods Not Lawns. The event, open to the public, will be in Lincoln Library’s Carnegie Room.
By speaking out, he hopes to inspire others to eat more foods that are grown close to home.
“For anyone thinking about doing the locavore thing, it doesn’t have to be 100 percent. Do one meal or just do it on the weekends,” he said.
“Last year, I got my feet wet. This year, I’m ready to jump in.”
Food editor Kathryn Rem can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.