Tuesday, May 6

Book recommendation

Over the weekend, I finished reading The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating by Alisa Smith and J. B. MacKinnon. The couple embarks on a year of eating only food within 100 miles from their urban apartment in Vancouver. And unlike many of those books where the real-life experiment sounds intriguing, this one is actually well written.

They give you the facts behind their decisions, like the popularly cited study from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, which reports the food we eat typically travels 1,500 to 3,000 miles from farm to plate. They also delve further into the facts -- that study is only including fresh produce: imagine how many miles all the various chemicals and ingredients thrown into our processed foods travels combined! It's incredibly baffling to read about how cheap oil has revolutionized the food industry to the point where you may have corn farmed in Iowa shipped to China to be canned, only to be shipped back to, say, New York to be put on a grocery store shelf.

The authors are really honest about their experiences, too, including the transition from convenience to planning for food (winter in Canada, anyone?) as well as their own personal evolutions. They emphasize food as a connection to place and community, something perhaps longed for yet often not fully realized on an individual level.

I highly recommend reading this book if you haven't yet. I've had it on my to-read list for nearly two years, and I'm so glad I finally did read it. It's the type of book that could change your actions, it's that inspiring. And now I really can't wait for the farmers markets to start up! Only three more weeks here in Boston!


Courtney said...

That book sounds great! It's the kind of thing I'd love to try, but I almost don't know how to start. Sounds like a great read, though.

Jenn & Owen said...

Don't let the "It's in Canada" fool you. I used to live in Vancouver, and you can grow a lot of things there year round. Herb garden, lettuce, probably even radishes, and the rest of your produce you can get maybe 9 months a year locally, if you are careful about buying in season. The fraser valley has the best market gardens in Canada, all within 100 miles of dwontown Vancouver. There is a couple doing this experiment in my city - Edmonton - the northernmost major city in North America, right in the middle of the great plains (think St. Paul but farther north). That is a real hardship. One needs to plan several months ahead if one wants to eat local vegetables in March.