Many of us are doing our part to lead healthier lives with minimal impact on our environment. Some time ago I learned of Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, who in 2005 began a one-year experiment of completely eating locally.
As with many ideas, they did not set out to create a movement, instead they sort of stumbled onto the idea after finding themselves out of food on the last day of a cabin trip with friends and family in the Canadian wilderness. Short on food they decided to eat off the land. After a meal of salmon, freshly picked mushrooms and other fresh foods they found, they realized that for possibly the first time they knew the complete origin of their food from production to plate. Their dinner had minimal impact on the environment and potentially left zero carbon footprint.
After returning home Smith and MacKinnon embarked upon a mission to identify the origin of their foods. The quest revealed remarkable results. Many of the foods sold locally had traveled thousands of miles prior to ending up on their table. At times even locally produced foods had traveled miles away prior to returning to local shelves. Many internationally produced foods had traveled as much three times the distance. Astonishing results in hand, they decided on an experiment. For the next year they would eat only food produced within 100 miles of their Vancouver home. Their year-long story is chronicled in The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating.
Lately I’ve become much more conscious of the origin of the food I purchase. I’ve found the easiest way to assure my food is fresh and local has been to frequent my neighborhood farmers market. Not only is my environmental impact low, I’m supporting local farmers and businesses. I’ve had to make a few sacrifices most notably bananas which are grown in Peru and Guatemala this time of year, but I’ve been introduced to a wide range of fresh new produce.
Although I haven’t determined what my radius is yet, I’ve become much more aware of the origin of the foods I buy. Better choices every day will improve the impact we have on our environment. What’s your radius?
Listen to Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon speak on their 100 Mile Diet adventure on the Organically Speaking podcast from December 2007.