100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating, The

Alisa Smith, J.B. Mackinnon
It's not surprising that authors/partners Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon's attempt to eat locally for one year--that is, consume only foodstuffs cultivated and harvested within 100 miles of their Vancouver pad--became a sensation first on the web and then in book form. As the green movement catches fire worldwide, heaps of people are discovering with alarm (as the authors did) that most meals consumed by North Americans travel a planet-busting average of 1,500 miles from farm to plate. While no one denies that New Zealand lamb served with Peruvian asparagus, California lettuce and German Riesling is mighty fine and ridiculously affordable at present, it's also a fact that the cost detailed on the supermarket receipt does not reflect the true cost (environmentally, politically, socially, spiritually) of hauling that bounty across the globe. Indeed, Smith and MacKinnon's local (and thus, seasonal) eating experiment reveals all sorts of truths that are disturbing, debatable, fiercely readable and enormously important for the welfare of our environment. Readers are bound to see themselves in the authors' shoes throughout 100-Mile Diet, never more so than at the start of the trial when Smith and MacKinnon hit the local grocery store looking for chow that meets their criteria. "There was nothing there for us. Nothing. It would be a year without ice cream. A year without salad dressing. A year without all-purpose flour, soup mix, olives, olive oil, Miracle Whip. Without ketchup, Cheerios, Peek Freans Fruits Cremes, peanut butter, Rip-L-Chips, Philadelphia cream cheese, Tabasco sauce, Campbell's Chunky New England Clam Chowder, creamed corn, Minute Main orange juice, no-name cola, Eggos, bulk pine nuts, Orville Redenbacher's popcorn, chipotle peppers, High Liner Multigrain Tilapia Fillets…" "A single supermarket today may carry 45,000 different items; 17,000 new food products are introduced each year in the United States. Yet here we were in the modern horn of plenty, and almost nothing came from the people or the landscape that surrounds us. How had our food system come to this?" Underpinning the drama of the authors' quest to discover whether eating locally is even possible is their own 14-year romantic relationship, which teeters on the edge of collapse throughout the year. The 100-Mile Diet is a revelation and required reading for anyone who eats. Cheap grub will never look so cheap again.--Kim Hughes

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