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The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating Hardcover – Mar 12 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Canada; 1 edition (March 12 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679314822
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679314820
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 15 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #361,800 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Rhodes on April 20 2007
Format: Hardcover
100 Mile Diet is a candid portrayal of an ambitious couple who, during a twelve month period, strive to "do the right thing" ecologically by making every effort to consume food and beverages whose origins lie within 100 miles of where they are living at a point in time. Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon truly get back to the land, as they forage in the woods in British Columbia for mushrooms and other edible flora, cart their raw materials back to their humble, television-free log cabin, and prepare, cook and eat their meals.

This high level of vertical integration, in which the couple all but abandon the outputs of big agribusiness, results in food procurement and preparation becoming, at the very minimum, a part-time job. In other words, the current state of affairs in North America make such a lifestyle virtually unsustainable; at the end of the year of eating locally, the authors relish the prospect of eating food that is either heavily processed or comes from far away.

The authors make a valiant effort to locally source key foodstuffs such as fish and flour. They discover that it is often frustratingly difficult to meet such needs locally. The authors' year-long local eating experiment includes many stressful periods, as the couple debate food gathering and preparation options; for them, it is not a matter of just pulling a Swanson dinner out of the freezer and slapping it in the microwave.

North America has dumbed down its diet to an unnecessarily narrow variety of choices, thanks largely to industrial agriculture. Much of our mainstream `normal' diet consists of corn, tomatoes, wheat, apples and potatoes.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Torecles on May 30 2007
Format: Hardcover
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, on Canada's Pacific coast. European civilization came late to this region, and not all the changes to it's 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.
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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Roger Leroux on May 19 2007
Format: Hardcover
I followed the original serial of articles in the Tyee (an online newspaper) and felt that the premise behind the 100 mile diet is in itself inherently flawed.

Notwithstanding that you can in fact eat everything you need from what Nabhan dubbed your local foodshed, it ignores the reality that the vast majority of people don't have the time and effort available to them to make this plan work. Further, if the entire population of Greater Vancouver made this switch, it cannot be sustained. And that is its fundamental failing.

While the authors are very engaging and their story is very well told, a far better book, in my opinion, is "Coming Home to Eat" by Gary Paul Nabhan. He too writes about his eating experiences over the course of a year, but has a much more realistic view.

For one thing, Nabhan, who lives in Arizona, uses a 400 mile radius for his foodshed, which for Vancouverites would allow the cattle from the interior, the wines from the Okanagan, and a much broader array of fresh produce - the weekly Farmer's Markets in Vancouver provide a huge bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables that for the most part simply do not grow in Vancouver.

For another, Nabhan further allows 1 out of 5 things to come from outside the radius; Nabhan rightly recognizes that not everything can (or even should) be supplied locally. Even the ancient Greeks traded olive oil for wheat across the Mediterranean basin.

I respect the authors' point of view, and strongly endorse the concept of seasonal, local, and fresh. However, no matter how engaging their story is, it's unfortunately not a workable idea. Nabhan's is.
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