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128 Meter Dinner

July 30, 2007 by Lightwaves
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l.w.18.128mdinnerheaderThe Ashram re-defines and celebrates the art of eating locally. A video of the event with reflections by Swami Radhananda is included.

In spring of 2005, two Vancouverites embarked on an ambitious experiment in which they would buy or gather only food from within 100 miles of their apartment. Their well-publicized efforts have promoted a wide-spread awareness about the environmental and social impact of our food choices.

Eating locally is one of the ways in which the Ashram community strives to reduce its ecological footprint. On Saturday, July 21st, the Ashram took the idea of the ‘100-Mile Diet’ challenge to a new length: a meal would be prepared using only food grown within 128-metres, the distance between the Ashram’s organic garden and the dinning room of Mandala House.

18.128mdinner1Although the garden is flourishing with summer vegetables, fruit, flowers and herbs, the meal would not include any grains, oil, salt or spices. From early morning, the garden and summer kitchen were buzzing with karma yogis and residents working together to harvest, wash and prepare the dishes.

That evening, we were welcomed at the dining room by tables adorned with beach stones, branches, and leaves. A quote written on a piece of bark reminded us that “Everything you need is within your reach”. Menu cards on the table prepared our senses for the seven-course feast ahead of us.

The meal began with a baby root wrap appetizer, followed by garden greens with raspberry cherry dressing. Eating in a meditative silence, we focused our energies on appreciating the simple and flavourful taste of each beautiful parcel of food. One karma yogi later commented: “I tried to pay more attention to the flavour of the food…and identify the tastes the different vegetables, flowers, and fruits.”

“It was almost a meditative event,” explained another participant. “Part of it was knowing all the effort, patience and work that went into every detail…”

18.128mdinner2The first item listed for the main course caught my attention quickly: “Green cracker with Saskatoon berry dipping sauce”. I learned that the crackers were made by grinding dried lambs’ quarters seeds into a flour, mixing it with a puree of greens, then baking the “crackers” in the oven. Our palettes and curiosity continued to be stimulated by items such as “Fresh steamed broccoli”, “Sorrel fish soup”, and finally, “Zucchini pasta with carrot basil sauce”. Glancing at the recipe card, I noticed that the carrot basil sauce which I had just consumed required 65 nasturtium leaves and 50 dill flowers, among many other ingredients.

Reflecting over stuffed raspberries and black currant mint tea (chilled with cherry juice ice cubes, of course), one karma yogi said that she experienced the event like a piece of performance art. Everyone who participated in the harvesting, preparing, serving and eating of the food were all like artists involved in a sacred ritual, she explained, each contributing their part to the performance.

18.128mdinner3The dinner inspired many of us to make an extra effort to support and promote local food. Although we felt that the meal represented an ideal in terms of food sustainability, it was mainly a celebration of the intent to eat locally. As one participant noted, “I don’t think anyone is prepared to eat entirely locally and seasonally all of the time. The best we can do is to be mindful about our choices in daily life.”

At Satsang the next evening, Swami Radhananda highlighted the teaching from the previous day’s event. Sometimes, she suggested, it is within what we perceive to be limitations that we can find the most abundance. My mind flashed back to the message dancing on the piece of bark from the table last night. I closed my eyes in gratitude for the bountifulness both within and around me.

Learn more about the 100-Mile Diet at http://100milediet.org/

By Jane Orihel


11 Comments »

  1. That meal sounds amazing! I try to eat locally in the summer as much as possible. The community markets in Toronto are great for local produce. To eat meals that are made from local food takes a lot of awareness and planning…I can’t just eat wherever I like. It may take effort but its worth it. I like what Sw. Radhananda said about limitations opening up bounty, or something like that.
    Anyone else have experiences of eating locally?

    Comment by Marcus G — July 30, 2007 @ 4:24 pm

  2. wow!!!! lambs quarter seed crackers are a mind opener. the story is a heart opener. i got inspired on our last visit and am building a solar dehydrator here. it has a separate heat collector that uses convection to drive a breeze of hot air through the food. well use it to dry tomatoes, basil, and herbs from the garden. i have to admit though, i sometimes take kale from our garden to the local cafe and trade for a pizza.
    love from slocan!
    a

    Comment by adrian — July 30, 2007 @ 6:04 pm

  3. HI,

    Very nice video. That meal looks sweet. The 128 meter is a very admirable approach to sustenance. Has the asharam ever entertained the thought of expanding their organic endeavor to include meat as well??

    Comment by Ali MAnsour — July 30, 2007 @ 9:32 pm

  4. Welkl done! Very inspiring to read ( and eat?)

    Comment by Filip — July 30, 2007 @ 10:29 pm

  5. Hey! Awesome! But the ashram is not a slaughter house Ali. I don’t think yogis eat other beings. I did not know that the 100 mile momentum came from vancouver, but yay them, cause we talk about it over here on the east coast of oz. Some shops that stock a new zealand organic drink range leave out the ginger berr in the nz range because we (red dragon inn) make it here in oz. pretty cool how ideas and ACTION make their way around…..
    namaste, naomi
    p.s. you can check out what I am working at/on/with at http://www.reddragoninn.com.au
    ethical and sustainable biz…….

    Comment by naomi forrest — August 1, 2007 @ 3:54 am

  6. Jane, thanks for the wonderful article. It really inspired me as I read it :) The ashram is always thinking ahead… it’s amazing what a group of people can do together! Wishing the the best.

    Comment by Navid Tabatabai — August 1, 2007 @ 10:57 am

  7. hey!
    i live in austria and we,my family, get nearly all our food from a organic farm close to us. i love it!! eating whats in season and loca,it makes me feel so much closer to my environment.
    eaven though at the end of winter i can’t really eat carots any more.
    well, i just want to tell you that i love our place.
    i really will visit you soon

    all my love

    Comment by rafaela — August 1, 2007 @ 2:33 pm

  8. We are very fortunate here in Victoria, BC. Within a few kilometers, we have several local farmers’ markets. One at least really promotes organic food. Susan Smith’s family was instrumental in starting the first market many years ago in the Saanich area. At present the markets are not year-round and, true to form, the major supermarkets here largely truck or fly their organic products from the USA and further afield. And a recent attempt to establish a farmers’ market in downtown Victoria – in the Seattle, Pike St Market tradition – lost out to the local business conference center. But awareness is up and growing mightily. Om Siva!

    btw, Kxx Citton has started a Radha Group on Facebook.com.

    Comment by malcolm pearson — August 1, 2007 @ 10:14 pm

  9. Actually Naomi and Ali, when I visited the ashram in 1998 there were cows and delicious fresh milk. When I came back in 2000 the cows were in the freezer. Some yogis like my husband really need to eat meat, but it takes more energy to raise animals than it does to raise beans. The 128 meter meal was a real tour de force of creative cookery, but what does it symbolize? I know that I can find satisfaction in a simple baked potatoe and steamed veggies from local farmers or elsewhere, if my heart is in the right place. Sw. Radhananda raises the point of just what are our limitaions? Can we be creative with what we have? Can we be satisfied with what we have? Are we aware of the impact that we have on everything around us? It is good to expand our awareness of our interconnectedness and our interdependance through growing, gathering and preparing our sustenance. But is food our real sustenance? Hari Om

    Comment by Jessica Monro — August 4, 2007 @ 8:12 am

  10. […] Momentum is building behind the Ashram’s food sustainability initiatives since last month’s 128m-diet event (link to this story). We’ve been meeting to develop a sustainable food purchasing policy and the development of seasonal menus is underway. Click to view a video of the Ashram garden manager – Christine Hodel – outlining how we are attempting to reduce our food-print. […]

    Pingback by Lightwaves » Blog Archive » Sustainable Foods - Local Diet Recipe — August 28, 2007 @ 1:53 pm

  11. […] To learn what the Ashram is doing in regards to food and sustainability click here (Food and sustainability video, 128 meter diet, Sustainability Initiatives) […]

    Pingback by Lightwaves » Blog Archive » Sustainable Choices — August 28, 2007 @ 2:20 pm

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