I would walk 100 miles
By Angela Michielsen
Somewhere between 1500 and 3000 miles (or 2400 to 4800 km) is the average distance your food has travelled to land on your plate (Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University). And the numbers are climbing. In our modern era, these may not seem astonishing because we have come to accept and reap the benefits of a globalized market. It is not shocking to see produce stamped with the words Product of Mexico, Israel, Peru or, most frequently, U.S.A.. With most shoppers concerned about the price of their food, few care where the produce is coming from.
This is slowly changing. Our food security is diminishing, and our concerns about the environmental impact of imported products are growing. These concerns include: pesticide and herbicide use; genetically altered crops; fuel consumption due to transportation; and human and animal rights concerns. As a result, some people are looking for alternatives to the supermarket shelves.
In 2005, B.C. couple, Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon decided to try something that is now coined ‘The 100 Mile Diet’. They committed to eating within a 100 mile radius (160 km) of where they live for one year. They have since written a book recording their journey and findings called The 100 Mile Diet – A Year of Local Eating. They found many environmental, social and health benefits from their experiment, and have since continued with their commitment and challenging others to follow their example.
The environmental benefits to eating locally are the most obvious: as confirmed by Iowa State University researchers, regional diets decrease fuel consumption by up to 20% as opposed to typical North American diets. There are many other reasons that eating locally benefits the consumer individually: an increase in taste because of freshness; direct connection to the farmer and their farming practices; support to local economies and consumption of less processed and packaged food, leading to weight loss and better overall health.
We are privileged to live in one of the most prosperous farming areas in the world. When you really think about it, there is a lot you can get within 160 km of where we live. There are many resources right under our noses, like the Grand Bend and Pinery farmers markets, the Sunnivue organic farm – featured in this issue – and all of the various local farms that are too numerous to count. You don’t have to drive far to start seeing farm after farm. We even have wineries for wine lovers out there.
It may take some creativity and a little more thought, but eating a local diet is highly beneficial for the environment, the local community and personal health.
If you decide to take up The 100 Mile challenge or have already, the Grand Bend Strip wants to hear about it!
Editor’s Note: The book is available at The Currant Organic General Store on Parkhill’s Main Street.