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Manitobans fill eat-local project

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ORGANIZERS of a plan to get 100 Manitobans on a strictly local diet for three months have already surpassed their goal, with 110 brave souls volunteering to take the 100-mile challenge this fall.

The project kicks off in September, which means participants have two months to stockpile summer goodies and indulge in some trucked-in treats before giving up imported strawberries and coffee in favour of local apples and Manitoba mint tea.

Dubbed 100 Mile Manitoba, the group of local food enthusiasts originally hoped to rally at least 100 people to eat food grown within 100 miles for 100 days straight.


Organizer Paul Chorney said the group was happy to go beyond their goal, but was optimistic from the start about their chance of success.

"When we first started, a number of the people involved in the beginning were pretty confident that we'd reach 100 or more," said Chorney, who also works with Manitoba Food Charter, a locally minded group that advocates for more accessible healthy food.

The bulk of participants in the project are from Winnipeg, but 15 or 20 live in rural communities including Carman, Steinbach, and Portage la Prairie, among others.

The 100-mile diet concept has ballooned since it was coined in 2005 by a Vancouver couple who lived for a year on only local food.

Participants are often driven by a desire to support local farmers, or an aim to reduce their "food miles" -- the distance food is shipped from farm to plate. It's an idea that's been scrutinized by some for being too simplistic, but praised by others as an environmentally friendly approach to eating.

The 100 Mile Manitoba group formed last year, and over the last few months they've been recruiting participants and building an extensive list of local food sources.

Participant Gayle Leverton said she read about the challenge in a local newspaper and decided to get involved.

"I never really cared about this kind of stuff before," she said. "I've always been kind of environmentally friendly, and I want to be better that way."

Leverton recently made her first trip to the St. Norbert Farmers' Market and said the experience of meeting producers in person was an eye-opener.

The 100-mile diet also made the recent tornadoes in Elie hit home, said Leverton. Elie is the location of a mill that's set to supply 100 Mile Manitoba with flour, and that connection made her more conscious of the livelihoods of producers.

"It does affect me, but I'm also thinking of all those people that work there, their jobs," she said.

Chorney said 100 Mile Manitoba is arranging workshops on bread-baking, food preservation and building root cellars, and so far, four restaurants -- Nicolino's, Organic Planet, the Dandelion Eatery and Fusion Grill -- have agreed to host weekly 100-mile meals.



The official website of 100 Mile Manitoba.


The website of Vancouver 100-mile diet founders Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon.

The blog of Free Press summer reporter Nisha Tuli, involved in a six-month local food experiment of her own.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 9, 2007 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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