Students to take on ‘100-mile diet’

There are many reasons Rockwood teen Frazer Nagy is excited about partaking in a 100-mile diet.

Chief among them are helping the local economy, living a healthier lifestyle, educating others and learning to garden and cook for himself.

“It’s an incredibly hard under­taking – it’s very strict,” Nagy said on Monday, one day before he started the 10-day challenge. “But I’m welcoming it … It will definitely be an interesting 10 days.”

For those unfamiliar with the concept, the diet involves eating only items that are grown and produced within 100 miles (or 160 kilometres) within a particular area – in this case, Guelph.  That means no prepared foods, sugar, coffee, bananas, oranges, or other items grown in warmer climates, and eating only meat produced locally.

“The menu can get pretty small, but there’s lots of alternatives,” said the 17-year-old Nagy. He mentioned replacing coffee with brewed with chicory root that is available locally.

A grade 12 student at John F. Ross, Nagy is among a group of 18 in the Head­waters program who, along with their families, will take part in the challenge. Headwaters is a four-credit program of­fer­ed to Upper Grand District School Board high school students. It is run out of Edge­wood Camp and Conference Centre in Eden Mills, where students have planted their own garden.

Nagy said the students are not sure what to expect and were actually a little nervous going into the challenge. But given the response of local farmers and organizations with whom the program consulted beforehand, they are more excited than anything else.

“They were both surprised and enthused,” he said of the response the students received during preparations, which have been ongoing for weeks.

The list of those who helped out included: local farmers, staff at Everdale Organic Farm and Environmental Learning Centre, and individuals like Kate Vsetula, coordinator of the Guelph-Wellington Buy Lo­cal, Buy Fresh map.

Nagy said students are very appreciative of the feedback, advice, and connections those individuals were able to provide. And while the challenge itself will end on June 12, the group hopes its effects are much more long term.

“We want to educate people and show them that it can be done,” Nagy said.

The students plan to document their experience and produce a recipe book they hope will be distributed to schools and libraries.

And he acknowledged the experiment could also come in handy when he heads to university and has to cook for himself on a daily basis.

“That will help,” he said with a laugh.

For more information and to track the students’ 10-day challenge, visit