I recently finished reading Plenty, a book detailing one couple’s year-long challenge to eat nothing but foods grown (or raised) within 100 miles of their home in Vancouver. Dubbed the 100-mile Diet, their adventure sparked a movement that has people all over the world reconsidering what it means to really eat local food.
One of the most interesting things about the story is comparing my life and eating habits to the way they eat on the 100-mile diet. What would I have to give up? On the other hand, how many countless new foods would I be introduced to for the first time?
They talk about hundreds of types of apples, tomatoes and other heirloom fruits and vegetables. I can’t help but note the fact that I can count the different fruits and vegetables I eat on fingers and toes. What happened to the biodiversity of our food? Factory farming happened, that’s what. Farmers churn out what the people buy (or what the government will subsidize) and this has left us with some pretty slim pickings. Look around the grocery store. Doesn’t it feel a little off?
Another eye-opener for me was watching an 18-year veteran vegetarian slowly work meat back into his diet. The pair start out as vegetarians and end up eating their fair share of seafood and eventually beef. I don’t think I’d do that no matter how comfortable I was with the farming practices. They do, however, mention farmers who name all of their cattle, a rare sign of respect you won’t see on factory farms, or about other farmers who would slaughter their animals in their sleep in an attempt to lessen the animal’s trauma, or still others who said prayers for each slaughtered animal. Interesting.
Stew and I have already talked about taking on the 100-mile challenge, but we’re cheating and waiting for springtime, which, in the south, is pretty much a cake walk. Baby steps, y’all. Baby steps.
I’ve thought about what I wouldn’t have within 100 miles: olive oil, tofu, tempeh, grains of any kind (goodbye quinoa, rice [dear God, rice??],oats, etc.), sugar and so on. But if I learned anything from Alisa and James, it’s that a little persistence and a lot of patience will lead you to just about any crop you want. They even found wheat at the end of their year. Eight months without bread, pancakes, rolls and the like will lead you to bust out your extreme crop-finding skills, apparently.
So yes, we’re up for the challenge… once the sun is out and plants are growing again. Like I said, baby steps. Luckily, North Carolina is filled with vineyards.