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Fussy eater

Lezlie Lowe talks to Mike McGlone, the market man.


No doubt you’ve heard this before: “I’ve been living fast-fast-fast, rush-rush-rush, go-go-go. And it’s not getting me anywhere.”

What you likely haven’t heard before is Mike McGlone’s antidote to his problem. He’s eating nothing but food from the Halifax Farmers’ Market for one year.

McGlone, who market regulars will know as Mike the Fish Guy—gregarious, kind, a 30-year-old rabid baseball fan—started his “Market Challenge” back in September to simply become healthier.

Now, he’s halfway through and fully committed (save a faltering few weeks when he was in Toronto for a funeral and letting his mood “determine what I ate”).

McGlone (and here’s something you probably haven’t heard before either) is a full-time financial advisor when he’s not getting up at 2:45 Saturday mornings to sell fish. And really, his Market Challenge isn’t out of sync with RRSPs and life insurance. It’s simple long-term planning.

Over lunch at the Wooden Monkey (He orders the seitan sandwich; I silently scrutinize the choice. Turns out the restaurant gets its wheat-based meat substitute from McGlone’s across-the-aisle market neighbours Big Life. “I’d have the stew here any day, too,” he offers) McGlone explains that since starting the challenge he thinks ahead, rather than with his stomach.

“I don’t think: what am I going to have for lunch today? I plan my week so I know that on Thursday I can have this, this or this for lunch.”

The same theory goes for snacks, which I imagine is degrees more difficult when the munchies strike. “I picked up sweet potatoes a couple of weeks ago,” McGlone says, “sliced them up really thin, put some seasoning on that I bought at the market, and broiled them for 10 minutes and I had a homemade sweet potato chip.”

So, no more Lay’s. But there is a pay-off. McGlone says processed foods affect his mood and activities. He used to have mornings where he hit the snooze button three or four times. “When I’m eating healthy,” he says, “I can’t wait to get out of bed.”

McGlone’s been pretty quiet about his challenge—which he’s extended to buying gifts at the market; he’s considering having shoes made there, too. He’s not much of a preacher. And he’s not interested in pissing people off.

“If someone buys me a coffee not from the market, like brings one to a meeting, I won’t not drink it. Same if I go to someone’s house: I’m not going to offend anyone with what I’m doing. It’s just being food conscious. A lot of being food aware, too, is to support local business and support local vendors.”

McGlone is hoping more people join him, even making smaller commitments if that’s what works. He says as long as you want to eat more healthful foods and can get to the market (which is targeted to open in its new location on the waterfront in June 2008 at nearly twice the size and with some businesses—including McGlone’s—there seven days a week), it’s not such a big whoop.

“There’s nothing you can get at the grocery store that you can’t get at the market in some form,” McGlone says. “With the grocery store, if you’re going to do it healthy, shop the perimeter. That’s where all the good stuff is—the vegetables, the meat counter, the milk, the bread. Once you get into the aisles, you get into the processed foods—the cookies, the chips, right? So what markets do is bring the perimeter to the public.”

And that’s probably something you’ve never heard before, either.

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