The locavore diet, or eating 100 percent locally, has been a massive learning curve for me. I’ve really struggled on some days.
Some days, I’ve found it so easy I laugh in the face of my dinner options. On other days, I’ve sat down to some serious ideological debate in my head as to why exactly we’re doing this.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
There are lots of things I’ve learned, and with just one month left of the 100 miles in 100 days challenge, I wanted to share some of the best parts of eating 100 percent locally. One thing that runs through all of these ideas like a golden thread is the connection I have with where my food comes from.
1. The Joy of Fermenting
Fermentation is some kind of magic. The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz is an incredible book and the boys over at Handsome Boy Pickles spent an evening to show us just how easy preserving and pickling is—and how delicious it can be when you get it perfectly right (their jalapeño pickled eggs were out of this world).
Fermenting foods such as cabbage to create sauerkraut, or beetroot to create a form of beetkraut, is so simple anyone can do it. What you get is a delicious and nutritional food. Fermentation can be found in loads of cultures across the world, with a huge variety of recipes from kimchi to kombucha showing there is something out there for everyone. This is a perfect way to keep vegetables for winter and I’m sure those five cucumbers I’ve been hoarding under the potatoes will taste delicious with some nasturtium seeds and a couple of pints of cider vinegar.
2. The Vices: Chocolate and Coffee
Diets are dangerous. I have never proclaimed to have much self-control and this diet has shown my true colors. After a serious commitment in the first few weeks, once I was out of my home and into the festival world, lots of things went out of the window—chocolate and coffee, however, were some of the last. Only in my extreme moments of weakness (birthday parties, hangovers and premenstrual moments) have I succumbed to these two.
I truly believe that everything is okay in moderation and these two foodstuffs have been around the houses to get to where they are today. Some chocolate companies are founded on their sustainable and fair credentials such as Green & Blacks and Booja Booja. And some coffee companies are doing all they can to support indigenous communities across the world by using certification processes such as Ethical Trade, Fair Trade, organic certification and Rainforest Alliance. If I’m going to lapse back into these two, I’ll try and make sure I do it in the fairest way possible.
3. Getting Fruity
Now, I have a sweet tooth. A really sweet tooth. I love exotic fruit. I love bananas and oranges in particular and I thought I might cry when these were taken away from me. But, as it turns out, I don’t really miss them. I’ve mostly missed apples and now that they’re in season I’m feeling very content. Overall, I’ve really enjoyed eating seasonally when it comes to fruit. First cherries and rhubarb, then plums, strawberries and blackberries. Now the raspberries are out and soon I’ll be able to harvest some rosehips and elderberry. Who needs a pineapple when you’ve got a hedgerow?
4. Herbal Teas
Tea is something that I thought I would be struggling with quite significantly and at the beginning it felt very surreal not to have a cup of tea when I woke up. It turns out that I can live without tea. Shock and horror. In fact, I don’t really miss it anymore. Some herbal teas I miss (like, pretty much everything Pukka ever made), but I have taken to using fresh lemon balm, mint or rosemary. Rosemary is kind of like a roast dinner in a cup—it’s delicious. And it feels amazing to refresh your digestive system in the morning with a cup of hot water and fresh herbs. My body loves me for this change.
5. Feeling Fresh
The best thing about this project, which has hands down changed the way I think about food, is the joy of fresh food. Now, hardly any of the vegetables I eat have been plastic wrapped. Most of them come straight from my veg box from Sims Hill Shared Harvest and salad bag scheme from Edible Futures. My meat is fresh from the small local farms Source supplies from—they know each of their suppliers incredibly well. Fish is more or less the same from Source. I buy eggs from Wiltshire, England, or from Elm Tree Farm at St. Nicks' market on Wednesdays, complemented by delicious Netherend Severn Vale butter and River Cottage yogurt from the Better Food Company. The only things that I eat that come in packages are Hodmedods peas, Pimhill oats, flour for bread from Sharpham Park and honey from my good friends and beekeepers Ollie and Eve down in Dorset, England.
All in all, it’s pretty good. The convenience of food is highlighted to me here—there is not much snacking happening apart from fruits or cheese. Booze is pretty much off the table, although now I do allow myself the occasional drink as long as it’s a local brew from a local company like Wiper and True. And eating out has relaxed somewhat as well. I’m not going to kick myself if my meal is seasoned with paprika or covered in olive oil. In fact, I’ll probably embrace it.
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1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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