“Eating locally isn’t just a fad – it may be one of the most important ways we save ourselves and the planet.” David Suzuki.
Local eating is a favourite subject for Denise Lambert , our regular guest writer here on Live Lighter, so far contributing, “For the Love of Asparagus ” and “Rhubarb – A Local Delight ”. Her source of inspiration lies in the recently published, national bestseller by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating .
This fascinating book recounts the year in which the married couple consumed only food (including the packaging) grown and sourced within a 100 mile radius of their Vancouver , BC apartment. This lifestyle experiment was motivated by the disturbing statistic that each ingredient in an average North American’s meal has typically travelled at least 1,500 miles .
The book raises interesting topics such as un-renewable energy sources, environmental damage and loss of nutrition due to food transportation, and the ever increasing untrustworthiness of mass food production and the organics industry. It even subtly considers the soundness of apocalyptic mentality and questions our current relationship with food, the fact that we are disconnected from our primary source for life.
The 100-Mile Diet is timely as growing concerns in global warming and other ecological worries have motivated countries from all over the world to investigate green living and self-sustainable practices. The book suggests that local eating is one very real way that we can live environmentally, socially and even nutritionally conscious lives.
Above all, this book appeals to the food lover in me. It is chocked full of descriptive references to the local food, cooking and their meals, and every chapter begins with a recipe. It is highly informative, citing statistics on the damage caused by mass-production and transportation of food. For the history buffs, readers get a glimpse into our grandparents’ time and earlier, of how people used to survive in Canada .
But the best part of the book is the intimate snapshots of the authors’ personal lives and marriage, and how a major lifestyle change like this can test a relationship.
The only real critique is that at times the historical references are a bit too indepth and dry at times, which interrupts the flow of the story. And they miss several key benefits to local eating. Namely, how the purity of the diet directly influences two subjects very close to my heart, cleansing and digestion.
The lack of man-made preservatives and other junk greatly decreases exposure to pollutants and helps reduce toxic overload in our bodies. The close-to-home logistics of the 100-mile diet also helps reestablish gut flora which aids proper digestion. This is done two ways: through a focus on natural fermentation methods and maintaining regular consumption of beneficial organisms , like those found in the soil.
The authors prove that local eating can be done in our day and age, even though it may be challenging at times, as with any major lifestyle and diet change. They also prove that it can be rewarding in taste and nutrition, in reconnecting with nature, and in bonding with friends, family and loved ones.
The quote which impacted me the most was near the end when they ask each other how they are feeling health-wise. J.B. writes:
“…the food seemed to go straight to my blood and my brain. I rarely felt hungry, and whatever craving I did have came through with hairsplitting clarity. I might suddenly want exactly one slice of cheese, or red kuri squash-no other squash would do-for lunch. I was having a peculiarly electric conversation with my body about its needs. It felt cosmic, and therefore embarrassing.”
Sharing their adventures in local fooding, Smith and MacKinnon have since started a movement towards grassroots eating and locally grown cuisine. The book has certainly influenced me as I now look before I buy my groceries, choosing local when I can. I plan to continue making small changes and eventually follow in the footsteps of Alisa and J.B.
I highly recommend The 100-Mile Diet for anyone who is interested in their health, food and nutrition, the environment, politics, relationships and conscious living. For more information on the authors and their foray into the 100-mile diet, read this CBC article .
And for those of you who live in Ontario and want to learn more about the wonders of our local produce, stay tuned for Denise’s local food guest posts!