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Posts Tagged ‘100 mile diet’

For what it’s worth, we’re going to drive a conclusion to this series today…at least for now.

It’s taken me 8 days to figure out what’s been bothering me about a fundamental assumption of the circle that comes with our 100-mile circle.  It hit me like a shovel today.

The difficulty I have with the circle is that you are rewarded with more options the further you get away from where you started.  50% of the area is covered in the final 25% of the distance.  I agree the distance is an arbitrary symbol – but the shape remains difficult for me to accept.

This is going to take a few maps before I draw a conclusion – but I’m pretty excited to share my thought process from this afternoon.

I started by changing the circle to a star.  I liked the star because as you get further away, the less options you have.  I started with the assumption that we would keep the same geographic area as a starting point (31,416 square miles).  I broke it into 12 equalateral triangles – each one has 3 sides of 78 miles per side (this creates a height of 68.5 miles).  We lose some of the pieces of the circle and the longest point from home (there are 6) is 137 miles from the core:

Some of the distance is much further than the original 100 miles but I’m willing to bet that once we cross a certain distance, longer becomes our friend; it makes the densest population of food closest to us and allows us to be very select on things we decide are worth the distance.  For me, that would include hunting in the North.

But this is just the start…

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I wanted to take another look at a map as we draw close to the end of this series.

I have heard people say that they measure local food as a distance from the border of their city – rather than just a circle from where they live.  I was more curious than anything as to the effect of this on our theoretical circle and what a difference this could make.

Toronto’s city core is 243 square miles (630 square kilometers).  The Greater metropolitan Area is approximately 2,751 square miles (7,125 square kilometers).  All numbers thanks to Wikipedia.

I know that neither area isn’t a perfect circle – to simplify my life I have created drawings that treat those two areas as perfect circles and then create new outer limits to our circle that is 100 miles from there.  Let’s start with a look before we break down the math:

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Since we`ve been playing with maps and math all week, perhaps it`s time to consider a few fundamental rule changes when attempting to define what is local to us.  It`s been fascinating to read and share ideas through the comments on how different our own interpretation of local can be.  Since we`ve been examining different versions of the map, perhaps we should challenge a few assumptions:

  • Knowing that much of our food comes from transport trucks; should we give bonus miles to food which travels on highways, especially on non-peak hours?  The fuel efficiency would be better than on back roads which are hard on fuel consumption and vehicle maintenance.  As Toronto is at the intersection of two major highways (one going East-West and the Other North), perhaps our shape should be closer to an inverted `T` to compensate for this distance.
  • While many of us adore Farmer`s markets, many of the markets have a rule that mandates no reselling.  This means that two neighboring farms would have to drive their own goods to market and not split the work (this does actively happen in Toronto).  Should their be penalties for these markets (of course there are advantages to no-reselling as well)
  • Should the area that is considered local change seasonally – especially for those in Winter Climes?  This would seem against the initial spirit of the idea but focussing a direction to harvest from could maintain less total distance of travel through the year (even when compared to a static 100-mile circle year-round).
  • Should larger batches of food be given greater leeway?  Mass consensus in the comments appears to say yes – that we are willing to go th distance to get food that we are more philosophically aligned with.
  • Should the storage requirements change the boundaries of local?  Items requiring he fridge certainly leave a bigger footprint than those that can be cellared.  Should we compensate by buying perishables from a closer distance?
  • Can we use one food to offset the distance of another – similar to carbon offsets?

Of course there are no real answers to the above – nor need to answer.  It is, however, interesting to consider the ramifications of some of this.  What have we missed?  What is ridiculous to consider?

To see all of the posts in this series, click here.  Be sure to check the comments out as well since many of them are blog posts in their own right – complete with maps, tools, resources and eloquent food for thought.

This is part 6 of a series of re-imagining the 100-mile diet – both by combining philosophical approaches and good old math and geography.  We’re taking the measurement very literally and reapplying it in several different ways – not because we think the measurement should be so literal, but to provide food for thought.  We really hope you’ll join the discussion that’s going on in the comments or on our facebook page.  Every comment between in either place between now and January 13th (5PM EST) will be considered a ballot to win a copy of Keeping Chicken’s with Ashley English.

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Let’s start today’s post with a retraction of a statement from yesterday:

What I like about these shapes – considerably more than the circle is that we’re cutting out a lot of driving from opposite directions.  For example, the half-circle has a maximum driving distance between two farms as 141-miles.  The 100-mile circle has a 200-mile distance between the two furthest farms.

I sat up in bed at just after midnight last night.  I had confused radius and diameter.  The truth is that the furthest distance between two farms in the 141-mile half-moon is 242 miles.  This isn’t all bad news though – there are only 2 farms this far away from each other (the bottom of the half-moons) while every other farm on the perimeter is closer than that distance )while the entire perimeter of the 100-mile circle has all farms at maximum distance).  The further you go in one direction, the least likely you are to need to go in an other (in theory) so there is further positive impact by choosing a shape like a half-circle over the full.

Today’s exploration is to examine the impact of changing our 100-mile circle into a square.  I found it wildly surprising to realize that a 100-mile circle covered 31,416 square miles.  It made not eating locally sound illogical (geographically speaking only).

The difficulty with a circle is that there is so much food at the extremity of its area (50% of the food comes from the 25% of the area that is furthest from us) that a circle could actually encourage us to buy from further away.  By forcing ourselves to a square that would fit inside that circle we could still benefit from food from that distance – selectively.

Let’s take a look at the visual before examining the math:

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This is part 4 of a series of re-imagining the 100-mile diet – both by combining philosophical approaches and good old math and geography.  We’re taking the measurement very literally and reapplying it in several different ways – not because we think the measurement should be so literal, but to provide food for thought.  We really hope you’ll join the discussion that’s going on in the comments or on our facebook page.  Every comment between in either place between now and January 13th (5PM EST) will be considered a ballot to win a copy of Keeping Chicken’s with Ashley English.

Time for a quick recap:

  • We’re exploring imaging different takes on what “100 miles” would mean as a way of exploring local.  We don’t intend to live this literally – and we don’t.
  • We’re hoping by exploring the literal geography as a means to promote conversation, thought and discussion around defining the version of local – that works for our house.
  • We’ve tackled different diameters, fighting with the border and the lake.
  • A 100-mile diameter circle is 200 miles across; something that is likely obvious but an important piece of this discussion.
  • We’re taking a look at reapplying the math.  A 100-mile circle has an area of 31,415.93 square miles.
  • The outside of a circle carries far more area than the inside.  The outer 25% covers 50% of its area.

For today, we’ll start modifying the shape – namely carving pieces of the pie out.  We’re going to look at 3 different cuts of the pie.

If we decided to use a “half-moon” – and keep the area consistent, we could increase the diameter of the circle.  A 141-mile diameter half-circle has the same area as a 100-mile full circle.

This now includes Lake Huron, Picton and much more hunt-able land if one is so inclined. (more…)

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This is part 3 of a series of re-imagining the 100-mile diet – both by combining philosophical approaches and good old math and geography.  We’re taking the measurement very literally and reapplying it in several different ways – not because we think the measurement should be so literal, but to provide food for thought.  We really hope you’ll join the discussion that’s going on in the comments or on our facebook page.  Every comment between in either place between now and January 13th (5PM EST) will be considered a ballot to win a copy of Keeping Chicken’s with Ashley English.

We identified that the border is problematic for some eating locally in yesterday’s post.  Erin made a great comment in the original article that she lives in Niagara (very close to the border) and that local easily included the other side of the border.  I imagine that the closer one  lives to the border, the less relevant it is in terms of “local.”  I wish that the produce we bought was more specific in where it was grown in the US; but it doesn’t and there aren’t any American farmers that I know of who are offering their goods for sale in Toronto as local so it’s a non-issue for us.

Our second problem becomes the Lake.  We’re going to offer a few ways of accommodating for this large body of water which is, by most determination, non-edible.  I remember eating some of the fish from the Lake as a child but as I grew older this became less advisable.  I am sure people eat from it now but it’s not a significant contributor to our food patterns.

The first thought is just to consider it a penalty.  This, in theory, would provide motivation to try to fix the problem and make the lake a sustainable source of food for future generations.

The next option is to take a similar approach to yesterday (apologies that my circle is a little skewed here – it’s fairly close but not bang-on today):

It’s pretty stunning to me to look at the circle drawn like this and realize just how much of our food is lost.

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This is part 2 of a series of re-imagining the 100-mile diet – both by combining philosophical approaches and good old math and geography.  We really hope you’ll join the discussion that’s going on in the comments or on our facebook page.  Every comment between in either place between now and January 13th (5PM EST) will be considered a ballot to win a copy of Keeping Chicken’s with Ashley English.

We explored the difference between measuring 100 miles as circumference and then as radius yesterday.  General consensus seems to be that 100 miles is as much an idea and a guideline and we’ll take that as an assumption even though we’re going to dissect the 100 miles several different ways over the coming days.  These posts will use the 100 miles diameter (Option 1, 200 miles across) as a measure for these posts.  As review, a 100-mile diameter produces a geographic area of 31,415.93 square miles.

The geography of Toronto is a fascinating study for this discussion.  There are 2 countries and 3 bodies of water in our immediate vicinity.

A lot of comments identified local as being provincial or national.  It is fascinating to me that local is country specific.  If we lived right on the border of the two countries, our 100 mile options would be cut in half.  If Canada ever bought the United States – or vice versa – our local eating options would dramatically increase.  I’m not casting judgement, just making observation.

Nationalism or not, the food from the US that would be local to us is very difficult for most of us to access.  “Made in the USA” is generally the extent of a label in the grocery store and I don’t know of a single farmer driving CSA shares from South of the border to Toronto (I do however know of people who live in Cornwall and buy “local” produce from small farmers on the other side of the border).  So, for the purpose of discussion, let’s assume the food in the US is off-limits:

10-20% of our circle is in the USA.  It’s a tough percentage to lose as there’s a lot of fertile farm land in that area.

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