For those of you that know me beyond this blog, you probably know that I've always been a picky eater. When I was younger I shunned anything green and would have happily subsisted on a diet of waffles, cheeseburgers and pizza.
After I met my wife I slowly began increasing the range of foods I would eat, and I've come to appreciate so much more, including an increasing array of fruits and vegetables.
I'm still fairly picky, and a significant reason is because I'm somewhat sensory defensive when it comes to certain textures, but I've worked pretty hard to try and overcome my own pickiness over the past couple of years.
Recently, after a series of food oriented documentaries on Netflix and as a part of my preparation for Leadville next summer, I resolved to radically improve my diet. For some time we've been striving to eat less processed foods and more locally and organically produced foods. In most cases we've been able to avoid the worst stuff. And while I've learned to make better choices I still eat a much higher proportion of meat to other foods.
Enter Fork Over Knives, the latest Netflix documentary we've watched. The filmmaker and those interviewed promote a completely meat and dairy free diet and all plant based foods. I fully believe that there is something in our environment that has caused the higher cancer rates of the past few dozen years and the obesity and chronic illnesses we see in the world today where people consume a western diet. Based on this film and many other things I've read and been exposed to I think it is mostly our food that's making us sick.
I'm almost 38 years old, and I'm pretty healthy for the amount of abuse I've subjected myself to. I've never smoked or drank, never been a night owl, but I have always been very active on a poor diet. And as I approach 40 I realize I've been very fortunate to have gotten away with being so healthy for so long. It's time for me to grow up and start eating to live, not living to eat. I need to cut out the things in my diet that are not going to help me stay healthy and active into middle age and (hopefully) beyond.
Then there are my political beliefs and my conspiracy theories (with plenty of evidence to support them) that reflect a strong inkling that Corporate America wants to keep us feeling bad and foggy minded so they can sell us drugs and poor medical insurance.
But before I wax rebellious, let me get on to the point. 2011 I deemed "the Year of the Longtails" and 2012 I am calling the "year of Sun Powered Transportation."
What this means is that I will be radically changing my diet. I will eat a primarily plant based diet. I'll avoid meat and dairy for the most part. I don't think it is a bad thing to consume some meat and dairy. But based on my history I need to almost completely cut them out, and perhaps for a time completely cut them out, to make a clean break from my bad diet.
By doing this I will be cutting out as much fossil fuel support to my bike and be replacing my energy needs with renewable and sustainable energy supplies. And that is the ultimate challenge.
The more fossil fuel dependent links in the chain I can eliminate between the sun and my pedals the more success I will achieve in my 2012 goals.
I will need to know where everything I consume in 2012 comes from whether as food or for material needs.
My criteria for determining if a product is acceptable for consumption will be as follows:
1) must be locally produced (within 200 miles)
2) All foods will be whole or minimally processed
3) Foods will be primarily plant based
4) Companies will use and promote healthy and sustainable production practices and reduced carbon footprint whenever possible
5) For material goods we need we will get either make ourselves, buy locally made or find suitable used products or substitutes
A large component of the challenge will be identifying companies that produce goods and foods that meet the criteria. As I do I will report on the companies and the products they produce. I'll attempt to visit (by bike) as many of them as possible.
Businesses I will definitely be visiting:
Star Acre Farms (3 miles)
Rocky Mountain Soda Company (10 miles)
Longmont Dairy (30 miles)
Miller Farms (40 miles)
I'd like to find a way to visit Honey Stinger (Steamboat Springs – 160 miles), Rocky Ford (175 miles) and some others outside the metro area. As the year progresses I am sure we'll discover other local businesses that provide the things we need.
Successfully completing the challenge will be a 100% locally produced diet within six months. In the beginning I will strive for a 100% local diet, but it may take some time to find local substitutes for regionally or nationally produced goods. But starting January 1 I will avoid all processed foods and anything with high fructose corn syrup or man-made additives. Since I know now what this challenge is going to entail I'll be working on making the full transition by January 1, and I may modify my goals at that time.
If I have a setback or if I stumble at any point I promise I will fully research the origins and processes used to produce any foods I consume that do not meet the criteria, and I'll report them to you here. My penance for making a mistake will be complete disclosure to you Dear Readers.
This challenge to change my diet will also exhibit the scale of modern food production. My goal is to reduce it from an industrial scale to an individual human scale.
The Year of Sun Powered Transportation will begin on January 1, 2012. For now we're still in the Year of the Longtails, and you can expect to hear more along those lines as the autumn moves along and the winter commuting season begins. In the meantime I'll be doing my research and screwing up my resolve to make this work. I'm starting right now, at this moment, to eat better and change to a plant based diet.
Not only will it be about food, but 2012 will be about cutting out material goods not made locally or by hand. The other half of the goal is to stop buying new stuff made in some other land. To further reduce our carbon footprint we'll buy only locally made new things or find a suitable used substitute. Or we'll make what we need ourselves.
More to come on this subject...
In other news, I'm on track for September 2011 to be my biggest mileage month to date. If I had not opted to lay off the biking over the weekend (I needed to give my body a rest) I would be pushing 600 miles by Friday. As it is I should top 550 which puts me well over my previous record of 528. At this moment I'm sitting at just under 462. My normal commutes should provide an additional 80 miles and I plan on doing a couple of longer morning commutes later in the week to boost my miles.
Its a bit contrived, but I'm a number hog so it's okay. I contrive stuff at the end of the month if I see I can hit big numbers, but the past three weeks have been all my normal running around with no thought of 600.