16 July 2007

The 100 Mile Diet - Alisa Smith & J.B. MacKinnon

Date: July 15, 2007
Recommendation: Intimate and personal memoir from the couple that has taken the blog world by storm


I have known about Alisa and James for quite some time. Look at me, calling them by their first name. I can't help myself, quite frankly. After reading the book, I feel connected to each of the authors. Their straightforward storytelling is both refreshing and affecting.

I had expected a litany of statistics and a preaching sermon on the ravages that today's consumer gluttony wrecks on the environment. Instead, I got a warming and heartfelt narrative from two compassionate writers. As they are each writers by trade their non-fiction book has a journalistic structure but succeeds by given the reader the intimacy of a novel.

If you are looking facts, there are very little here other than the know well known one: the average ingredient on the North American plate travels 1,500 miles before consumption. I don't need to discuss with you the environmental impact of such a journey. However, much of this travel is to achieve economy of scale. Without such travel, and without a wholesale change in eating patterns, North Americans could simply not afford their food. James and Alisa do not belabor this point - see www.100milediet.org for more details - in the book.

Rather, they express the emotions and feelings that come with their change in diet. Imagine storing potatoes in your sock drawer. Can you name more than 1 edible flower that grows in your area? I sure as shit can't. More than anything else, I have come to the realization that I know nothing about food. Over 99% of the meals I have eaten in my lifetime were prepared by someone else.

A concept they discuss is traceability, or rather the nature of knowing where your food comes from. Who picked the berries you are eating? Who sowed the field? What farms or agribusinesses were involved along the way? I have no idea. But I going to commit myself to at least trying to find out.

Today, just 20 species provide 90% of the world's food.


Anonymous said...

Next on our bookshelf that are similar are "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver and her family; then "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollen. Did Alisa and James also forgo buying and using TP like the couple in NYC doing the local diet, no waste thing? http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/22/garden/22impact.html?ex=1332216000&en=e775250d1fe1ae13&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt

see you soon, Rich!

Anonymous said...

Shelley, Alisa and James put the Omnivore's Dilemma in their "to read" section. And I have seen the Kingsolver book. Looks good.