The remarkable, amusing and inspiring adventures of a Canadian couple who make a year-long attempt to eat foods grown and produced within a 100-mile radius of their apartment.
When Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon learned that the average ingredient in a North American meal travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate, they decided to launch a simple experiment to reconnect with the people and places that produced what they ate. For one year, they would only consume food that came from within a 100-mile radius of their Vancouver apartment. The 100-Mile Diet was born.
The couple’s discoveries sometimes shook their resolve. It would be a year without sugar, Cheerios, olive oil, rice, Pizza Pops, beer, and much, much more. Yet local eating has turned out to be a life lesson in pleasures that are always close at hand. They met the revolutionary farmers and modern-day hunter-gatherers who are changing the way we think about food. They got personal with issues ranging from global economics to biodiversity. They called on the wisdom of grandmothers, and immersed themselves in the seasons. They discovered a host of new flavours, from gooseberry wine to sunchokes to turnip sandwiches, foods that they never would have guessed were on their doorstep.
The 100-Mile Diet struck a deeper chord than anyone could have predicted, attracting media and grassroots interest that spanned the globe. The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating tells the full story, from the insights to the kitchen disasters, as the authors transform from megamart shoppers to self-sufficient urban pioneers. The 100-Mile Diet is a pathway home for anybody, anywhere.
Call me naive, but I never knew that flour would be struck from our 100-Mile Diet. Wheat products are just so ubiquitous, “the staff of life,” that I had hazily imagined the stuff must be grown everywhere. But of course: I had never seen a field of wheat anywhere close to Vancouver, and my mental images of late-afternoon light falling on golden fields of grain were all from my childhood on the Canadian prairies. What I was able to find was Anita’s Organic Grain & Flour Mill, about 60 miles up the Fraser River valley. I called, and learned that Anita’s nearest grain suppliers were at least 800 miles away by road. She sounded sorry for me. Would it be a year until I tasted a pie?
—From The 100-Mile Diet
Freelance journalist Smith and MacKinnon (Dead Man in Paradise) recount their yearlong experiment of living on a diet of foods grown within 100 miles of their home in Vancouver, B.C. They forgo foods such as oil and salt when they realize these common staples, among many other food sources, travel great distances before reaching one's supermarket. They discuss the challenges and sacrifices they endure as they commit themselves to a philosophy of living on locally grown produce and a way of life radically different from what they had known. While this is an illuminating story, many issues are not addressed, such as the impact of this diet on one's health and one's wallet and whether it would be possible for an ordinary family to engage in such a way of life. Nevertheless, this is an eye-opening account and a good read about the couple's particular experience. Academic studies, historical research, and primary sources enrich their memoir, which includes references to biologist Edward O. Wilson's The Diversity of Lifeand Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation. An acknowledgments section is provided; however, a bibliography would have been more useful. Recommended for public libraries.