Living On The 100 Miles Diet

Found via Sustainablog (they have been having their Blog-O-Thon - we wrote about it - pay them a visit and have a look at the dozens of posts), this interesting story in The Tyee about Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, a couple who are trying to live for a year on a "Hundred-Mile Diet" - only buying food produced within 100 miles from their home. The reason for their local-food quest: "For the average American meal [...], World Watch reports that the ingredients typically travel between 2,500 and 4,000 kilometres, a 25 percent increase from 1980 alone. This average meal uses up to 17 times more petroleum products, and increases carbon dioxide emissions by the same amount, compared to an entirely local meal."Interesting concept, but what happened so far?

Immediately there were problems. First was the expense. We used to eat a nearly vegan diet at home-our dwindling bank accounts emphasized how much cheaper beans, rice and tofu are than wild , oysters and organic boutique cheeses.

Then, we wasted away. We were unable to find any locally grown grains-no more bread, pasta, or rice. The only starch left to us was the potato. Between us, we lost about 15 pounds in six weeks. [...] James' jeans hung down his butt like a skater boy. He told me I had no butt left at all. At the end of these desperate six weeks, we loosened our rules to include locally milled flour. [...] Then there was a lack of variety. From March 21 until the farmers' markets started in mid-May, the only locally grown vegetables available were humble fare like kale, cabbage, turnip, rutabaga, parsnip and leeks.

None of this is very surprising considering that our food supply system simply is not designed for much variety; in most cases, each region more of less specializes in a certain range of foods, growing them with massive fields of monocrops, and it imports what it doesn't produce from other regions and so on. So since these people didn't happen to live near grain producers, problems ensued.

Now that the farmers' markets are in full swing, we are perfectly content with the Hundred-Mile Diet. But the markets end in September. What to do from then until next March? My thoughts turn to preserves. Then it comes back to the sugar question [where to find some when none is produced close-by?].

We'll try to keep an eye open for their progress, as they are supposed to write twice a month for The Tyee. As for what most of us can do without losing too much weight; buy local as much as possible, and even if you can't get the 100 miles diet to be perfect, trying is better than doing nothing. I'm sure that a lot of local stuff can be found easily - and that it's mighty tasty - during the summer. Have a look, you might like what you find.

Or, if you have the option, you can always do what my family does: We subscribe to an organic farm (affiliated with EquiTerre (website mostly in French)) that is close to our home, and every week of the summer we go pick up a basket full of vegetables and fruits.

::Living on the Hundred-Mile Diet, via ::Sustainablog