Saturday, July 22, 2006

My 7,000 Mile Granola

My homemade granola has traveled at least 7,000 miles to reach my bowl.

I've read that each piece of food Americans eat travels 1,500 to 2,000 miles from ground to stomach. Yesterday, I did some cursory investigation and added up what I could find out about where my food came from for the day. The unscientific sub-total is 13,265 miles.

The most surprising lesson so far has been learning about my delicious nutritious homemade granola:

The oats in this batch came both from the bulk foods section at Oryana (the natural foods co-op in Traverse City) and Quaker Oats (a unit of PepsiCo). I am not sure if the Oryana oats are local or not; I will report back later in the week after a shopping trip. I am still waiting to hear back from Quaker Oats about where that batch of oats may have come from. Miles=?

The flaxseed is packaged at Bob's Red Mill and, according to Chelsea in Bob's customer service department, is grown in either the Dakotas or Canada. "This is the best area for growing this particular crop and where most flax comes from." So, if the flaxseed is shipped from South Dakota to Portland, Oregon (about 1607 miles), and then to Northern Michigan (about 2371 miles), my flax traveled 3,978 miles.

The oil, Qualita Vegetable & Olive Oil Blend, has both a Mexican and US flag on the front, and is packed and distributed by a company in Utica, New York. Although this tells me nothing about where the oil was produced, I'm making a mileage guess for the sake of the experiment: Tijuana to Utica = 2410 miles; Utica to Traverse City = 669. Total miles = 3,079 miles.

The coconut, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, dried blueberries and almonds that are blended into my granola all come from the bulk food section at Oryana, so I am not sure of their source. I will conduct further investigation on my next shopping trip to Oryana.

The most interesting ingredient that I found the source of was the honey I bought a few weeks ago at the Bellaire Farmer's Market. It comes from DeKorne Honey Farms in Ellsworth (18.5 miles from my home). A little online searching uncovered James DeKorne, author of The Survival Greenhouse (1975), Aspen Art in the New Mexico Highlands (1970), and Hydroponic Hothouse (1999). I can't be sure that James is part of DeKorne Honey Farms, but it is nice to find new books for the ISLAND Library through a jar of sweet, golden honey.

Finally, the yogurt that I mix with the granola is homemade with milk from Shetler's Dairy. 25 miles.

All told, just breakfast traveled at least 7,000.

Lunch was much more reasonable. Aside from the oil, it was made entirely from my CSA box, which traveled about 10 miles. Dinner, however, was matzo ball soup (from a packet), and I imagine that it traveled at least as far as my breakfast. My wine, Rossi Di Montalcino from Italy, traveled 4,590 miles.

The most satisfying was a mid-morning snack: raspberries from the front yard. Miles: 0.

Read about the Watershed Diet here:

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