British Columbia

Richmond Eats fundraiser encourages people to eat locally

The Richmond Eats fundraiser encourages people to only eat produce grown on the island, locally raised meat, and seafood caught by local fisherman.

The Richmond Eats challenge encourages participants to eat food produced within city limits

Stephanie Dunn said she has been discovering the variety of food options available in Richmond. (Stephanie Dunn)

Move over 100-mile diet, there's a new challenge in town — one that encourages participants to only eat food produced within town limits.

For one week starting Aug. 24, the Richmond Food Security Society is challenging its staff, volunteers and the public to to only eat locally-raised meat, produce grown in Richmond, and seafood caught by local fishermen.

Society board member Stephanie Dunn said the purpose of Richmond Eats: A Local-Eating Challenge, is to raise $10,000 for the society to continue its work fighting hunger and promoting local food production, as well as "to spark a conversation about local food and why it matters."

"The hope is that when we start valuing our local food, we're going to value our food production as well," she told host Chris Brown on CBC'S The Early Edition.

What about coffee?

Eating from only within Richmond's borders means participants will have to forgo that cup of Colombian coffee — as well as tea, salt, pepper and other foodstuffs.

However the challenge allows participants to choose three exceptions to supplement their cooking or dietary needs.

Stephanie Dunn and her son in one of the Richmond Food Security Society's community gardens at Terra Nova Rural Park. (Supplied)

"I have three small kids so coffee is definitely at the top of my list of exceptions," Dunn laughed.

Dunn said her other exceptions include milk — she said there are no dairy-producing cows in Richmond — and olive oil.

Dunn said for her and other participants this week will be largely a produce-based diet. She said there is also a locally-raised chicken and beef available in Richmond, but it's only available every three to six weeks.

The society is encouraging participants to share their experiences on social media using the hashtag #RichmondEats.

Challenging, but rewarding

Dunn said that it is remarkable that, even in a densely-populated city like Richmond, there is so much local food available

"Richmond is a busy city. We've got more than 200,000 people here, but we also have more than 5,000 hectares of farmland and 60 per cent of that is farmed," she said.

"With imports from places like California increasingly unreliable, it's more and more important that as a region we start to look at our local farmland and how we're using it."

Dunn said that although eating locally can take a lot more time and effort, there are benefits to the consumer and the larger community.

"When you're buying local your food has a lower carbon footprint, and there's a great economic benefit to supporting businesses close to home," she said.

"For consumers local food gives you a lot more information about your food. It's the opportunity to talk to the farmer to find out how it's grown, what fertilizers [it has], if pesticides were used. That's a level of information you just can't get in the grocery store."

To hear the full interview click on the audio labelled: Richmond-mile diet