The 100-Mile Diet

Smith, A. & MacKinnon, JB. 2007. The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating. Vintage Canada, Toronto. Pg. 2-56.

The first half of this book is a very interesting read, for it really gets an individual thinking more about what they are eating and where that food actually comes from. The concept of the so called “100-mile diet” forces you to think about eating more locally rather than eating globally. It also gets you researching and looking further into what types of food are grown near and around your city, thus you gain an appreciation in the local farmers and suppliers of fresh foods. As soon as I started reading the first chapter of this book, I was thinking about how most of the food that I eat is certainly not local, but rather shipped across hundreds of miles. Every word of this book so far really gets you deeply thinking about local foods, and is definitely changing my perspective about eating worldwide.

Growing up, you never really think about where the food you’re eating comes from; rather, you just make a good meal and enjoy the foods in it. That was my case, anyhow. I have always shopped at commercial grocery stores (i.e. Superstore, Safeway, Wal-Mart, Save-On Foods, etc.), without paying any attention to local food marts. I will also admit I’ve never been to the farmer’s market in town, where local farmers and growers sell and I have an excellent chance in exploring and possibly buying the fresh foods grown locally. It has never really been an interest of mine, because as mentioned, I have never put thought into buying locally.

Reading the very first chapter of this book got my mind going about how oblivious we are when buying food these days. We have no idea where most items are coming from. As mentioned on the third page of the book (very early!), “the food we eat now typically travels between 1,500 and 3,000 miles from farm to plate”. That is a significant distance, and definitely not local. They also predict that the distance is likely to increase over the years. It’s almost sad to think about – commercial growers are making all the profit, while the delicious, home-grown plants of locals are being almost ignored by most. Of course, I was one of the people who was completely oblivious to buying locally, until I started reading the very first chapter of “The 100-Mile Diet”.

Another point the authors bring up pretty early in the book is that a grocery store today may carry 45,000 different items, 17,000 new food products are being introduced in the United States each year, and yet almost none of the food in a common household came from the surrounding people or landscape (pg. 13). Again, I find that eye-opening, and it almost makes me want to start buying more locally rather than from a typical grocery store. Although it may be more expensive and less items would be available, I would be supporting the locals and the food would likely be fresh and utterly breathtaking. I am not even finished reading the book and I am already considering changing my eating habits to cater to local foods.

Yet another part of the first half of the book I enjoyed, or thought was a good thing to bring up and to think about, was the use of pesticides on plants these days. The sentence on pg. 56 really illustrates this: “in 1952, just 11% of American corn was treated with pesticides and herbicides; today, the statistic is over 95%.” This is definitely part of a long controversial argument in the world about the use of pesticides/herbicides, and I’m glad that the authors of this book brought it up and talked about the ridiculously high number of their use in the world today.

Overall, though I have not finished reading the book yet, I get the impression that the authors really want people to focus more on their local farming communities and to choose a more sustainable way of eating. They bring up many valid points throughout the chapters about how eating around the world has major implications, and eating locally has many positive aspects. I have a much stronger opinion and am definitely more informed about eating locally now. I will probably start looking more into local food marts and the farmer’s market of Kamloops rather than continue to buy everything from a grocery store.

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