The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

06 April 2010

The 100-mile diet

The 100-mile diet: a year of local eating, by Alisa Smith & J.B. MacKinnon.

This is a book I highly recommend. By now, you've probably heard about, and may even be practicing the 100 mile diet -- a 'locavore'.

James and Alisa tell about a dinner they prepared with friends up at their wilderness cabin. There wasn't enough food on hand to feed everyone, so they headed outdoors, and gathered whatevers, prepared it on the spot, and had the best meal ever. That led them to contemplate what goes into a typical North American meal - the transportation, herbicides, pesticides, processing, packaging, preserving, storing. Would it be possible for them to live for a year on ingredients that were grown within a hundred miles of home? They lived in a small Vancouver apartment, so they wouldn't be able to grow their own produce, they would have to find farmers, fishermen, millers, orchard tenders, bee keepers and so on, locally.

Their book progresses chronologically through the year, alternating with Alisa writing one month, James the next. Each month tackles a new challenge such as storing potatoes, pickling cabbage, or finding a nut farm. But rather than being a straightforward diary, they include Canadian agricultural history, environmental facts, horticultural tidbits and so on. For instance, they tell us that Lord Somebody who was the overseer of colonial farmers in BC mandated what was grown and how. From the early days of settlement, the Europeans in BC brought their own seeds and cuttings, continuing their accustomed diet, not incorporating what the Native Americans were eating.

And so began the editing of footstuffs grown or made available to the people. Knowing that Salt Spring Island alone, today, grows over 300 varieties of apples, that there are hundreds of kinds of tomatoes and so on... doesn't it make you a little upset that the super markets provide four sorts of each, and that none actually taste like they could?

Being environmentally responsible is a really big deal these days. I'm not a Green Nut by any stretch, though I am reasonably conscious of water consumption, garbage waste (I deplore over-packaging) and running errands efficiently. Before reading this book, I didn't consciously have a food plan relating to environmentalism. Now I am inspired for several reasons to embrace this concept of 100 miles: great-tasting food, nutrition, knowing precisely what is in my food and maybe even who produced it, and for the Peanuts to have greater awareness of where their food comes from and what it is, in its natural state.

Have you read the book, or heard of the locavore movement?


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  2. I prefer this concept:

    We hope to work on something along those lines once we're all moved and stuff.

  3. Hmm, I might actually read it. I hate jumping on the bandwagon everytime someone, especially Oprah, recommends something. (Some of her favourites I really disliked) But I didn't realize it was Canadian. I learn something new every day. :)

  4. Carly, I think that's a great idea! I've heard of the movement and support it wholeheartedly. Go for it!

    MKmom, I completely agree:I don't consider the Oprah name to be a recommendation - it often turns me off. (I definitely don't want her name on my own copies of books!) In this case, I didn't know she had endorsed it. I just happily stumbled across it in my public library. Besides being an interesting concept, it is an informative, well-written book. I think you'd like it.