The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating

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The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating

by Alisa Smith, J.b. Mackinnon

March 12, 2007 | Hardcover

The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating is rated 5 out of 5 by 2.
The remarkable, amusing and inspiring adventures of a Canadian couple who make a year-long attempt to eat foods grown and produced within a 100-mile radius of their apartment.

When Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon learned that the average ingredient in a North American meal travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate, they decided to launch a simple experiment to reconnect with the people and places that produced what they ate. For one year, they would only consume food that came from within a 100-mile radius of their Vancouver apartment. The 100-Mile Diet was born.

The couple’s discoveries sometimes shook their resolve. It would be a year without sugar, Cheerios, olive oil, rice, Pizza Pops, beer, and much, much more. Yet local eating has turned out to be a life lesson in pleasures that are always close at hand. They met the revolutionary farmers and modern-day hunter-gatherers who are changing the way we think about food. They got personal with issues ranging from global economics to biodiversity. They called on the wisdom of grandmothers, and immersed themselves in the seasons. They discovered a host of new flavours, from gooseberry wine to sunchokes to turnip sandwiches, foods that they never would have guessed were on their doorstep.

The 100-Mile Diet struck a deeper chord than anyone could have predicted, attracting media and grassroots interest that spanned the globe. The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating tells the full story, from the insights to the kitchen disasters, as the authors transform from megamart shoppers to self-sufficient urban pioneers. The 100-Mile Diet is a pathway home for anybody, anywhere.

Call me naive, but I never knew that flour would be struck from our 100-Mile Diet. Wheat products are just so ubiquitous, “the staff of life,” that I had hazily imagined the stuff must be grown everywhere. But of course: I had never seen a field of wheat anywhere close to Vancouver, and my mental images of late-afternoon light falling on golden fields of grain were all from my childhood on the Canadian prairies. What I was able to find was Anita’s Organic Grain & Flour Mill, about 60 miles up the Fraser River valley. I called, and learned that Anita’s nearest grain suppliers were at least 800 miles away by road. She sounded sorry for me. Would it be a year until I tasted a pie?
—From The 100-Mile Diet

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 272 pages, 8.49 × 5.82 × 1.03 in

Published: March 12, 2007

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0679314822

ISBN - 13: 9780679314820

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Everyone should read this This book will change the way you look at your food. it was such a great read. You will love it.
Date published: 2007-09-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from How shall we live? Is it possible to eat locally, and what would it be like? To answer that question, the authors embarked on an experiment: a year of local eating. But why eat locally? The authors start with the obvious carbon-footprint reason – the 1,500 or more miles that a typical meal travels to our plates, a number only made possible by cheap oil. Other more subtle reasons quickly emerge, and much of the interest of the book comes from exploring these reasons. The book is the product of two specific people, living and writing in a specific place. It is a personal narrative, and needed to be written in the first person. This is done by simply alternating perspective – first chapter MacKinnon, second chapter Smith, etc. It works, and is far preferable to the third person they resort to for the short epilogue, or a fused first person where “I” becomes meaningless. (Yes, I've seen it done.) The format is straightforward: a month-by-month diary. Food is shared with friends; family crises, work assignments and relationship troubles come when they will. All are woven into the story, all somehow adding to the themes of the book. Also added to the recipe is a significant amount of research and interview: scientists, farmers, fishers and natives are given a voice. The specific place is Vancouver BC, on Canada's Pacific coast and just north of the US border. European civilization came late to this region, and not all the changes to its ecology have yet been forgotten. As a resident of the same city, my familiarity with the area certainly enhanced my enjoyment of the book. (But no, in case you're wondering, I don't know the authors.) However, readers in other parts of the world will be compensated with the challenge of thinking about what constitutes local eating for their region, and how the experiment would be easier, more difficult, or otherwise different for them. There are no villains in this book. The authors tell us how things are, and what they can learn of how they were. The reader is left to ponder the role of industrial food producers, governments, oil companies – and us, the consumers. The authors are conducting an experiment, not trying to form a new religion. 100 miles was their definition of local, not the only one. One chocolate bar or one working lunch at a Thai restaurant does not send them (or you) to hell. They don't claim it's easy for city-dwellers to eat locally today – they describe the challenges as well as the pleasures and possibilities. (Just because a species doesn't grow here, doesn't mean it can't.) They don't tell you that you have to do what they did (and let's face it, not everybody has their commitment, resourcefulness or culinary skill), but they do give you reasons why you might aspire to. They don't claim that everyone in Vancouver, or the rest of the world, could switch to a 100-mile diet overnight. The point is that they did it, and they wrote a book with the power to make you think. By choosing to embark on their adventure, the authors have explored a parallel universe of local eating. By writing about it, and with with such skill, humour, intelligence and accessibility, they have become our guides to that possible universe. In the words of my university's PhD regulations, they have made a “contribution to knowledge”. They deserve our thanks.
Date published: 2007-05-31

– More About This Product –

The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating

The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating

by Alisa Smith, J.b. Mackinnon

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 272 pages, 8.49 × 5.82 × 1.03 in

Published: March 12, 2007

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0679314822

ISBN - 13: 9780679314820

Read from the Book

MarchMan is born free and everywhere is in chain stores.GraffitiThe year of eating locally began with one beautiful meal and one ugly statistic.First, the meal. What we had on hand, really, was a head of cabbage. Deep inside its brainwork of folds it was probably nourishing enough, but the outer layers were greasy with rot, as though the vegetable were trying to be a metaphor for something. We had company to feed, and a three-week-old cabbage to offer them.It wasn’t as though we could step out to the local megamart. We – Alisa and I – were at our “cottage” in northern British Columbia, more honestly a drafty, jauntily leaning, eighty-year-old homestead that squats in a clearing between Sitka spruce and western redcedar trees large enough to crush it into splinters with the sweep of a limb. The front door looks out on a jumble of mountains named after long-forgotten British lords, from the peaks of which you can see, just to the northwest, the southern tip of the Alaska Panhandle. There is no corner store here. In fact, there is no electricity, no flush toilet, and no running water but for the Skeena River rapids known as the Devil’s Elbow. They’re just outside the back door. Our nearest neighbour is a black bear. There are also no roads. In fact, the only ways in or out are by canoe, by foot over the distance of a half-marathon to the nearest highway, or by the passenger train that passes once or twice a day, and not at all on Tuesdays. So: We had a cabbage, and a half-dozen
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From the Publisher

The remarkable, amusing and inspiring adventures of a Canadian couple who make a year-long attempt to eat foods grown and produced within a 100-mile radius of their apartment.

When Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon learned that the average ingredient in a North American meal travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate, they decided to launch a simple experiment to reconnect with the people and places that produced what they ate. For one year, they would only consume food that came from within a 100-mile radius of their Vancouver apartment. The 100-Mile Diet was born.

The couple’s discoveries sometimes shook their resolve. It would be a year without sugar, Cheerios, olive oil, rice, Pizza Pops, beer, and much, much more. Yet local eating has turned out to be a life lesson in pleasures that are always close at hand. They met the revolutionary farmers and modern-day hunter-gatherers who are changing the way we think about food. They got personal with issues ranging from global economics to biodiversity. They called on the wisdom of grandmothers, and immersed themselves in the seasons. They discovered a host of new flavours, from gooseberry wine to sunchokes to turnip sandwiches, foods that they never would have guessed were on their doorstep.

The 100-Mile Diet struck a deeper chord than anyone could have predicted, attracting media and grassroots interest that spanned the globe. The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating tells the full story, from the insights to the kitchen disasters, as the authors transform from megamart shoppers to self-sufficient urban pioneers. The 100-Mile Diet is a pathway home for anybody, anywhere.

Call me naive, but I never knew that flour would be struck from our 100-Mile Diet. Wheat products are just so ubiquitous, “the staff of life,” that I had hazily imagined the stuff must be grown everywhere. But of course: I had never seen a field of wheat anywhere close to Vancouver, and my mental images of late-afternoon light falling on golden fields of grain were all from my childhood on the Canadian prairies. What I was able to find was Anita’s Organic Grain & Flour Mill, about 60 miles up the Fraser River valley. I called, and learned that Anita’s nearest grain suppliers were at least 800 miles away by road. She sounded sorry for me. Would it be a year until I tasted a pie?
—From The 100-Mile Diet

About the Author

Alisa Smith, a Vancouver-based freelance writer who has been nominated for a National Magazine Award, has been published in Outside, Explore, Canadian Geographic, Reader’s Digest, Utne, and many other periodicals. The books Way Out There and Liberalized feature her work.

J.B. MacKinnon is the author of Dead Man in Paradise, which won the 2006 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-fiction. His feature reportage on issues ranging from African prisons to anarchism in America has earned three National Magazine Awards.

Editorial Reviews

“Nothing you eat will look the same! This inspiring and enlightening book will give you plenty to chew on.”
—Deborah Madison, author of Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets

The 100-Mile Diet is inspiring in its honest striving to discover what has been all but lost.”
The Gazette (Montreal)

“Engaging, thoughtful essays packed with natural, historical and personal detail.”
The New York Times

“A highly readable, sometimes funny, and very personal book–with just the right nutrient content of hard fact to balance the spice of memoir.”
Times Colonist (Victoria)


From the Trade Paperback edition.