Saturday, 7 April 2012

The 100-Mile Diet

Smith, A.; MacKinnon, J.B.  2007.  The 100-Mile Diet:  A Year of Local Eating.  Vintage Canada, Toronto. 

If you decide to partake in the100-Mile Diet, be forewarned that in order to eat a varied diet you must do a lot of planning and researching!  It is also necessary to define what your 100-Mile Diet will consist of;  for instance, are you considering 100 miles away from your home residence as a radius or as determined by driving along roads? 

Most of the planning and preparing for doing a 100-Mile diet should start in the spring and carry out through the summer and fall so as to take advantage of all the fruits, vegetables, seeds, etc. that are produced in home gardens and in the wilderness during this time.  This lesson can be learned from the authors, James and Alisa, of ‘The 100-Mile Diet’ whose first official try at a 100-Mile meal in Vancouver cost them $128.87 for feeding only four people.  They soon learned that purchasing food items in bulk directly from local farmers was a much better choice;  which resulted in them actually spending less than they would have with their previous ordinary diet.  After an entire winter eating mostly potatoes, eggs, and beats, James and Alisa spent their late-spring, summer, and early-fall canning, freezing, drying, and fermenting various foodstuffs to use throughout the next winters months. 

As the authors found, it is very difficult to have a 100% true 100-Mile diet.  Yes you can eat food from your own garden and perhaps from a nearby farmer’s market:  providing honey, fruit, vegetables, eggs, etc.  However, just think about the many items that you would probably need to cut out of your diet (unless you are extremely lucky):  salt, flour, sugar, rice, peanut butter, citrus fruits/juices, bananas, popcorn, crackers, soya sauce, brown/black/kidney beans, junk food, the majority of spices, the majority of alcoholic beverages, and chocolate (which many people, including my mom, would be devastated to lose from their diets).  And many other items would require some ingenious ideas or hard work to make, such as ketchup, mayonnaise, and ice-cream. 

Another thing to consider is are you just going to eat things that grow/live within 100-Miles of you or are you also going to only use products from within this area as well.  If so, then this extremely limits your use of toothpaste, soap, shampoo, conditioner, dish soap, laundry detergent, etc. 

No matter what choices you make in limiting your 100-Mile diet, eating from the wilderness would require extensive researching and perhaps taking some courses to educate yourself so that you don’t poison yourself while trying to better the world.  This education may also help you in designing an effective garden for your area that can help sustain you. 

Also, are you only considering food that is always within 100 miles from your home, because if so then the water in a well, and perhaps hunted wildlife like moose and deer, may travel through more than the 100 miles surrounding your domicile.  And what about fish caught from local lakes?  Do these fish travel in more area than that covered by your 100-Mile distance?  And even if they don’t, are these lakes stocked with fry?  If so, where do these fry come from? Even home-grown, free-range chickens are raised on supplemental food of grains, with their eggs containing some of the nutrients derived from these non-local grains;  and local, range beef are grained for 6 weeks or more directly before butchering.  Even your garden’s aren’t safe because the fertilizer (if you use local or your own animal’s fertilizer) is from these “free-range” chickens and “range” beef.  So what edible “local” food items are really, truly, 100% from within 100-Miles of your home? 

So, is it worth this extreme effort to partake in a 100-Mile diet when it not only consumes a lot of your time, but also limits a lot of food items that we’ve grown up enjoying?  Or is it best to only make an effort to eat 80% or so of 100-Mile diet food, with the other 20% or so reserved for such things as delicacies (chocolate!) and international food.