Most foodies and Locavores have heard of the 100 Mile Food Diet. This was started by Canadian writers Alisa Smith and JB MacKinnon in 2007, when articles documenting their experience eating foods from within a 100 miles of home for one year were published. These articles later formed the basis of a book The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating. Since then, this diet has become more of a movement that has been explored and followed internationally. 100 miles equals approximately 160 kilometres. Depending on your location, a 100 mile diet in Australia could easily be achieved, however certain foods of course could prove difficult. I am probably bias but I think Brisbane is a perfect city to try this diet. A number of fertile valleys (both fruit and salad bowls) exist in a short radius of Brisbane. The Tweed region of Northern Rivers provides coffee, tropical fruit, rice and nuts. Mt Tamborine with it’s volcanic fertility is popping with fresh produce (also coffee and alcohol), the Sunshine Coast is a similarly blessed region. I believe in purchasing locally where possible but unless you are living near a Garden of Eden there is likely to be some things that simply don’t grow or survive well in your region. Travelling around Australia I bore witness to the incredibly diverse country that I live in. Just over the next hill and around a corner, the landscape can dramatically change. It was lovely to see villages and towns thriving within a particular industry and farm gates and farmers markets bursting with local harvests specific to that region.
I don’t want to discuss the merits and flaws of the 100 mile food diet. I think the concept is thought provoking and a challenge worthy measure. This is more a lovely segue into a marvelous shop called Maldon 50k Local I discovered in Maldon, Victoria. I was in town for the annual Folk Festival at the start of November.
It is an unassuming corner store right on the main street in Maldon that sells products sourced within a 50 kilometre radius of Maldon. 50 kilometres (31 miles) is admirably ambitious and totally awesome! The shop supports more than 30 small scale produce growers and makers that operate from within 50 kilometres of Maldon. By dealing directly with suppliers, they are able to decrease overheads, increase freshness and pay a fair price so the producers can remain viable. A poster on the wall proclaims that Maldon 50K Local is helping solve the problem of where our food will come from in the future, by securing local food now. Another sign stipulates the amount of kilometres various products have travelled, for example verjuice (10km), eggs (20km), apricots (14km) and olive oil (2km).
I love this shop and could have happily spent hours browsing and chatting to the owner. At the time of our visit the store owner was engaged in a lively conversation with a customer regarding sourcing local pork. I happily snapped photos, bought some coffee, spinach and eggs and we went on our way.
The majority (80-90%) of the products available are from within a 50 kilometre radius from Maldon. The rest (such as Milk & Citrus) is all from Victoria.
I am so impressed that a shop like this exists. It was no doubt very influential in my loud proclamation that evening that ‘I could live in Maldon’. I accept we did not see the real Maldon as we visited during the peak flurry and excitement of the Maldon Folk Festival. The town was swelling with people, music, activities and food.
Supporting local makes good sense and for foodies it is also right on the trend. Funny to think food miles is treated as a novel concept, a selling point in itself. Jump back a hundred years ago, and local is probably all you could expect from your grocer in a small remote town such as Maldon.