The 100 Mile Diet

The 100 Mile Diet is not really a diet in the modern sense (a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce ones weight).

It is truer to the ancient Greek definition diaita, which means literally, manner of living.

The 100 Mile Diet is a practice of deprivation; it is a manner of living or lifestyle.

Originally coined by James MacKinnon and Alisa Smith , the 100 Mile Diet refers to the practice of consuming food that has been grown, manufactured or produced within a 100 mile radius of the person consuming the food.

On the first day of spring in 2005, James and Alisa chose to confront the fact that when the average North American sits down to a meal, they are sitting down to foods that have travelled over 1500 miles.

In an attempt to confront and bring attention to this practice, they decided to only consume food and drink that was produced within 100 miles of their apartment in Vancouver, British Columbia.

When the average North American sits down to eat, each ingredient has typically travelled at least 1,500 miles—Alisa & James call it “the SUV diet.” On the first day of spring, 2005, Alisa and James chose to confront this unsettling statistic with a simple experiment. For one year, they would buy or gather their food and drink from within 100 miles of their apartment in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Soon after they began to chronicle their experiment on their blog at thetyee.ca, the blogosphere and ultimately the mainstream media became aware of their 100 Mile Diet. With this unexpected attention, came the creation of a grassroots 100 Mile community.

People all across North America began to look at the food they ate in a new way. What am I eating? Where did it come from? What goes into it? What are the repercussions of consuming this food?

There is also a connection between this diet and the proponents of this diet (known as locavores) to the concept of sustainability. And while the terms, locavore and sustainability may be relatively new, the concept is not.

The connection between food and ethics has been explored in literary form in the books:

Diet for a New America

Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook

The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Fast Food Nation

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating

While future posts will focus on diets that follow the modern definition of diet, I welcome any questions/concerns about this posting.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “The 100 Mile Diet

  1. It’s a nice concept. I heard of it from Michael Pollan. Even better or in addition it would be to follow a vegetarian or better a vegan diet as Helge blogged about at Vegetarian Diet Greatly Benefits Environment

  2. DR

    Thanks for the feedback Hans,

    There definitely is some synergy between Pollan & the locavore movement.

    As for the vegan diet, I totally agree that a locally grown vegan or vegetarian diet would be great for our ecological footprint, however I defy anyone to resist the smell of barbecue wafting at you from the bbq.

    I double dare you to resist…oops…drooled on the keyboard

  3. girlsdropbombs

    a lot of food for vegans is heavily process- TVP is hugely processed from soybeans…. Quorn* and NotDogs and the assortment of vegan prepared foods also very processed. Every vegan I know eats this crap. The more processed you get the more impact on the environment. I’d love to see a study on the eco impact of a *typical* vegan diet. I suspect that you’d find it far less impressive environmentally than a vegetarian diet or even a local omnivore diet.

    Take for instance within 100 miles of me (boston area) I have no less than 3 farms that sell: beef, lamb, rabbit, chicken and turkey. All raised in limited quantities and the waste products are used to fertilize the farms. These animals are raised in a sustainable manner, the waste is used in place of commercially available fertilizers and the farms are lush and green the animals are not having a huge impact on their environment. I believe, that by purchasing a steak from one of these farmers that I’m doing far more for the environment than I am when I eat a quorn burger. There is a HUGE difference from local small farms and factory farms.

    The difference in the final product is amazing too. There is nothing like true grass fed beef or eggs from free range chickens.

    *Quorn is grown in a vat…

  4. Pingback: Book Prize for the 100 Mile Diet « Diets-explained

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