The 100 Mile Diet


The 100 Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating
by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon
ISBN:978-0-679-31483-7
ISBN-13: 978-0679314837

You might recognize this title because this is the book that inspired the TV show “The 100 Mile Challenge.”

Written by two journalist this book is full of fascinating facts and history woven into the story of a young couple trying to do something big. Alisa and James go a full year only eating local food.

The book is full of eye opening statistics. Did you know that until the Farmer-to-Consumer Direct Marketing Act of 1976 it was illegal for farmers to sell food directly to their neighbors and fellow citizens in the United States?

How about this one? “A study in the United Kingdom showed that the amount of time people now spend driving to the supermarket, looking for parking, and wandering the lengthy aisles in search of frozen pizzas or pre-mixed salads is nearly equal to that spent preparing food from scratch twenty years ago.” (pg 159)

The point of this book is to explore our connection to food and community and where our food really come from. They are not trying to convert everyone to local eating, in the beginning of the book, after their first dinner Alisa doubts their challenge is even going to be possible. And although she got might bored with potatoes it was more than possible.

During “The 100 Mile Challenge” James and Alisa also went from vegetarians to meat eaters. Early in the book they talk about why they became vegetarians; because they didn’t like the way that animals where breed and treated in our society, but knowing the farmers and how the animals were treated with respect they were willing to eat meat again.

And they understand that you can’t control every aspect of your diet in today’s world, and that they have to draw the line somewhere. Is milk 100 mile milk if the cow is within 100 miles but eats grain from more than 100 miles away? What about vegetables in a field fertilized with manure from more than 100 miles away?

Vibrant characters such as Roy who lives in the Northern British Columbian wilderness and does things the old fashioned way add to the story and illustrate how it‘s still possible to live off the land and your own labor. While Roy worries about his tomcat who has gone off in search of a mate James suggested that Roy get the cat fixed. Roy answers “Sure, but I don’t know how to fix a cat.”

To someone like Roy driving to a vet and paying for such a service never even crosses his mind. That DIY mentality and independence is all but lost in today’s world and its refreshing to read about people such as Roy and know that not all of our collective wisdom in the ways of nature and living off the land are lost.

They had their low moments, like getting local grain only to find it was previously infested with mice. They brought some home and had to sort the mouse dropping from the wheat before grinding it to make their own bread. It sat so long that bugs started to hatch from larva in the grain and infest their apartment.

The 100 Mile Challenge is a great story and an inspiration not just to eat locally but to think about where our food comes from. The writing is captivating and informative. This is a story you won’t be able to put down.

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