November 14, 2016

Changing Food Miles To Food Feet

Apples from the back yard, low food miles, great taste, and free.

How far your food travels has serious consequences for your health and the climate. People are rediscovering the benefits of buying local food. Better nutrition, less waste and a lower carbon footprint are the result.

At the grocery store I can buy apples from the far reaches of the world. Not only do they have outrageous food miles, but they are also very expensive. I don't want those apples.

I don't want apples from New Zealand (14,978 km/9306 miles)

I don't want apples from South Africa (12,142 km/7,545 miles).

I don't want apples from Chile (8957.64 km/5566.02 miles).

I don't want apples from British Columbia, Canada (4030.46 km/2504.41 miles).

I don't even want apples from the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia (58.72 km/36.49 miles).

No, all things considered, I want apples from my backyard.

Things taste better when you have harvested them with your own two hands.

This summer I found a beautifully laden apple tree a few minutes from my back door (about 500 m/1640 feet). Two days and two nice hikes later and I have a big sack of gleaned apples to store for the winter.

The only way it could be more local than that is if the apple tree was growing in the middle of my kitchen.

Since we started our garden this summer we have not bought kale, carrots, peas, beans, radishes, summer savoury, basil, or cilantro. Now I can add apples to my growing list of foods I have not had to buy from afar. We can get them from a-near instead.

Linda - queen of the apples that came all the way from a tree we can see from our window.

The next planned addition will be to plant some garlic this week so we can harvest our own next summer, and quit buying it from China... which is 10, 638 km/6610 miles away.

Our garlic will be growing 3 meters/15 feet from our front door.

We're changing food miles to food feet, which lowers our carbon footprint and adds nutrients and taste to our diet. It also feels extremely satisfying to break free of our reliance on Big Food, and grow and pick food with our own hands.


  1. My neighbor gave me peaches from her tree. Yum! It's comforting to have food nearby.

    1. Celebrate all good neighbours. As precious as peaches, I say.

  2. Nice! They look so different compared to those from supermarkets.

    I get my apples from girlfriend's grandfather who lives in rural area and has an apple orchard. Not only better nutrition, lower carbon footprint and less waste, those apples also taste so much better than those from supermarket.


    1. Mitja,

      They look different, and taste different. The tree looks very old, so perhaps is a variety not as common today. The apples are not as sweet as apples from the store, and we like it that way.

  3. We have lovely apples here in New Zealand.....and they taste even better when they come from your own tree (or in my case, our neighbours) haha. I agree completely with reducing our food miles to try and source your own food from as close to home as is possible. I already don't buy any imported fresh food (except the occasional banana), but have been attempting to reduce ANY imported food at all- it's so hard. Slightly off topic , but we've had a devastating earthquake here 2 days ago and already it is becoming apparent how some food is harder to get right now thanks to broken roads and no rail etc. We're so much more blessed than many but I am still thankful I have flour in the pantry for bread and at least some veges in the garden. I thought I was prepared but nothing prepares you really until you're faced with the actual reality of a natural disaster. Scary times but we will get through. Rescue and clean up attempts are being hampered by severe weather now. I am holding those I love close to me and remembering how fragile we really are compared to Mother Nature. xx

    1. Karen, I was wondering how you are doing with the earthquake and all. Can't imagine. You are in my thoughts and I am keeping up with news on the situation there. Thanks for mentioning here. Terri, South Carolina, USA

    2. I also was wondering how our NZ friends here were doing since the quake. You'll be in my continued thoughts!

    3. Karen,

      You do have lovely apples there - I have eaten many here. I wonder if they sell Canadian apples in NZ?

      I love bananas. I think we are closer to bananas from the Caribbean than we are to kale from California. I wouldn't mind living where bananas are grown. Unfortunately, that would be the only way to get a low food mile banana. Unless they were delivered by sail boat...

      I have seen some of the devastation from your recent earthquake - scary stuff. Linda and I left earthquakes behind when we moved to Nova Scotia, and we don't miss them.

      Glad you are ok. Nothing like a natural disaster to help us put things in perspective. We are small and fragile beings that can't go long without air, food, and water. It is good to be prepared, wherever one lives. Hope everyone is getting through alright.

    4. Thank you for your thoughts Terri, Miss Marla & Gregg. The after shocks are still coming but hopefully will lesson as time goes on. I'm certainly feeling quite vulnerable!
      I haven't seen Canadian apples here Gregg. In fact not much Canadian anything really except tourists lol. We do import fruit from Australia but I don't buy it. We can grow bananas here but I think only at the top off the north island I believe? It's not hot enough anywhere else. Same applies to avocados.
      I don't know how it is for the rest of you but in noticing more and more imported food (and clothing and just about everything actually) coming in from China. The food miles must be horrendous. How did we all used to live and eat before such importation was available? I'm thinking our diet here must've been a LOT more basic!

  4. I agree with you 100%. I would never buy a piece of fruit from something which has been shipped from the USA or wherever. I will not buy garlic from China. I am blessed to live in the Northern Rivers in NSW. The number of organic farms and home grown produce ( including ours) is amazing and abundant. We have also recently received lemons from a neighbour, herbs and greens from the garden of a friend and greeted another neighbour as he drove over to the farm next to ours to milk a cow we see every day on our walks. At our house we have a myriad of small plants and larger ones growing with many veggies and herbs. We also go to one a couple of local farmers markets and is the only place we buy fresh produce. We also get to chat and enjoy meeting up with neighbours and like minded people. If it is not in season, we wait and use what is. Recently we had a juice fast in our house and all of the produce for that came from our neighbours huge market garden. It is nourishing for the soul and our physical and mental health to have such amazing access to so many resources :) Thanks for sharing your apples .....

    1. Vicki,

      Must be nice to live in a sub-tropical climate. I do believe bananas grow in your area. Can you confirm this? Yum.

      You describe quite an idyllic situation - good job. It sounds like you live in a rural area with ready access to good food. Priceless. I think we will see a rural resurgence in the near future as people get back to the basics of taking care of themselves. Everything will benefit from such an arrangement.

      We love the rural lifestyle here in our new home, even if it is in the mid-temperate zone. No bananas.

    2. Spot on. Sub-tropical, the weather is a little unpredictable ( hot though no winter to really speak of compared to you home, Canada where I lived for 20 years). Bananas I get every week from the Farmers Market and they are local. Everyone has banana trees, mangoes, avacadoes and so on. The resurgence is happening and I realise we live in quite a unique area and are often told we live in a "bubble" compared to the rest of the world. The thing is we chose this and after a year of living here I am so glad we did!

  5. It is wonderful to get fresh fruits and vegetables from your own yard. Perhaps the best part is you get real food, not food that was picked before ripened and sprayed with all kinds of chemicals that make it look perfect, like something someone painted in a still life.

    I've been noticing that fruit and vegetables are becoming much larger overall. I bought an apple the other day and it was giant. I just shake my head and wonder what they are doing to our food that is making it so large, hormones?? No clue, but it can't be good. Have fun preserving your apples!

    1. Terri,

      Industrial food is really stepped on these days. We hardly know what real food looks like any more.

      I wonder if the mutant fruit and veg is from DNA damage from radiation?

      Not sure exactly what we will do with the apples. Apple crisp is easy and yummy on a cold fall night with a full moon over the woods. And Saffron mentioned baked apples below, which sounds very good.

  6. Hi Gregg,

    I've never stored apples before but I think I read that if they are not 'perfect' they will not store well as whole, raw apples. For spotty apples you may be better bottling them, making apple sauce, or drying them. I may be wrong but thought I would mention it as it would be a shame to lose your harvest.

    Funny that you are just planting your garlic and here in Aus I've just harvested mine! Congratulations on your productive vegetable garden, you've grown a lot in a short time. I was just saying to a friend after the election, this is the time to get rid of your mortgage (or any other debt for that matter) and grow as much of your own food as possible. While I always hope for the best, it's good to be prepared for interesting times ahead.


    1. Madeleine,

      I do believe that you are correct. It does make sense. In the picture of the apple queen above, Linda and I were grading the apples as best we could. Damaged ones will be processed/eaten first.

      We did think about drying some, and I remember bottles of crab apples when I was a kid. I loved them.

      Congrats on the garlic harvest. What a perfect, beautiful plant. Our garden did turn our very well considering we got a late start this year. We are looking forward to an earlier start next year.

      Actually we already started for next year when we got our garlic in the ground yesterday. Linda came outside with me and it was a warm, breezy and beautiful day for our last work in the garden for 2016.

      You are right about preparing for an uncertain future. If you haven't already started, it may be too late real soon, if not already. No debt and a garden is a great start.

  7. Linda,all I can see are some decadent baked apples with brown sugar and walnuts. Another great post.Saffron

    1. Saffron,

      Haven't tried this. Going to soon. Thanks.

  8. Hello Apple Queen! I love purple, symbolizes royalty, perfect for a queen!


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