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Put your commitment where your mouth is

On June 17, do you think you can limit your diet strictly to locally grown food? - Andrew Leong/file
On June 17, do you think you can limit your diet strictly to locally grown food?
— image credit: Andrew Leong/file

Global warming. Oil spills. Carbon footprints. The world’s problems seem overwhelming if you spend any time dwelling on them.

They seem so vast, so insolvable, that many of us just resign ourselves to a dismal future.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Some local committed citizens - Transition Cowichan, Cittaslow Cowichan Bay and Cowichan Green Community - are doing just that, in hosting the third-annual Cowichan Valley Eat Local Challenge on June 17.

Locals are being encouraged to commit to eating only local, Vancouver Island-grown, raised or fished food for those 24 hours. Those interested in sharing their local dinner that evening with other, like-minded people are invited to a potluck dinner.

For those worried about not being able to have their daily cup or daily cups of Joe, not to worry, one exception to the rule is allowed.

“Many of us have read the 100 Mile Diet and Animal, Vegetable and Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver, those two books somewhat inspired this movement,” said Jane Kilthei, a founding member of Transition Cowichan.

Cowichan Valley residents are being asked to see for themselves how local food can be cheaper, more varied, tastier and healthier than the shipped food you often find in grocery stores. The idea is to experience the wide variety of tasty, healthy food that can be sourced locally without the carbon footprint associated with shipped-in produce, to support local producers and to think about how we can increase food security on Vancouver Island.

“Eating local, not shipped food, and changing our land use practices makes a huge difference if many of us do it,” said Kilthei.

She added that if we think globally, there are hidden costs to what we’ll pay in the long run for the way we are eating now. The soil loss from industrial farming, not to mention the transportation footprint is huge.

“We’re using that day to raise awareness about how people can do something without pain and really enjoy it,” Kilthei said. “We’re doing our small part locally to chip away at a global problem.”

In addition to raising awareness among locals about the wealth of produce and food raised on Vancouver Island, the groups also hope that grocers will take note.

“With more and more people asking about where their food is coming from, we’re hoping that grocers will realize that there’s a local demand and that people really care about where they get their food.”

And beyond raising awareness, the day supports one of an area’s most valued resources, its local farmers.

“It’s so important to support farming, because farmers often don’t make a lot of money,” she said. “They often do it because they love it, they could make a lot more money doing something else, that’s why it’s important to support them.”

With California’s recent droughts, Kilthei said we can’t continue to think  California will continue feeding us.

Luckily, Duncan is blessed in that it has a Saturday market, lots of farm gate sales, shops and restaurants that feature local fare, not to mention individual homeowner’s gardens.

“By taking this step, we’re doing our part locally in working on the big problems in the world,” Kilthei said.

Bill Jones, chef, author and local wild foot expert will speak at the event. There is no cost to attend, but donations are welcome.

 

Your ticket

What: Potluck, bring a dish made with local Vancouver Island ingredients to share

When: June 17, 2014, 4:30-7:30 p.m.

Where: Christian Reform Church, 930 Trunk Road, Duncan

Cost: By donation

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