MacKinnon, J.B., Smith, Alisa. 2007. The 100 Mile Diet: a year of local eating. Vintage Canada Edition, Toronto, Ontario.
Local Eating: A Foreign Affair Part II
We had first begun to read James and Alisa’s one year of local eating adventure 3 months ago. We followed along with the begining months of their endeavour. It was an introduction to not only their story, but ours-or I guess who I can only speak for, mine. There is a sense of closure going back to where it all began-back to the first story. In between then and now, there have been many other writers, many other stories, many blog entires. I have felt a greater appreciation for plants, our food and our world. Of course, there has also been my own experience of local eating through our 100-mile diet class project pseudonamed “How Close Can You Stay.” Between then and now, there has been a lot. With all the new experience and perspective at hand, I turned the page to the rest of the October-March saga of James and Alisa’s 100 mile diet.
The 100 mile diet to me still stands as a very cool concept. Did James and Alisa succeed it what seemed this highly questionably plausible feat? They did. From my own experience of researching, foraging and creating just one local meal, I understand better the challenge itself and furthermore can appreciate their success. A sincere kudos to them. Though I no longer find the feat unimaginable (a claim I had made 3 months prior), I strongly still believe the ultimate challenge that exists for it. Even reading their story, their adventure was work. Practically full time work. It seems unrealistic to manage to complete strict local eating whislt maintaining any other sort of life or career. However, from what I have learned, ultimately, this is priority. As Alisa shared on her jam canning experiences, contrarily to my claim, she says “the last thing [she’d] call it was work. It was living”(p.158). I completely understand her appeal. It has been made clear that finding enjoyment in what we do is really important for our happiness and involving ourselves to connect to our own lives is important for the enrichment of our human experiences. Though as much as it can be romantisized that it was not work, it was. However, this is not said to at all take away from their success. I just feel as journalists they were fortunate to accomplish both their feat and their writing collectively, it was a hybrid of work and living.
After having read many other stories in between the split readings of 100 mile diet, it was very easy to contrast their story to the rest. For instance, their story largely revolves around themselves, and this is something I both disliked and appreciated. Why I disliked this was because I had really come to appreciate the story of plants. I liked learning of a plant’s alchemy, nature and evolutionary triumph in our human history. James and Alisa did not write their story from a plant perspective whatsoever. However, who said they had to? This is equivalently what I can appreciate about their story. It is reality. The reality of local eating and how it has stretched to such a foreign affair. It is their personal experience, which even at times delves intimately into their relationship. It is relatable. They have so many moments of learning, something of which I can completely relate to even after only attempting a fraction of their 365 day trial. For instance, Alisa on p.168 shared she’d “been unaware that chestnuts even grew in this part of the world, but these are the simple, wondrous things that [she] kept learning this year. It is this genuine and naive nature of their writing that is also appealing. It is the relationship of plants and people, and though I had come to appreciate the marvels of the plants, it is equally important to appreciate the people. Furthermore, this relatibility is also what is so hopeful of their story. Local eating is for anyone. James and Alisa showed me that ultimately, it is a matter of priority and willingness to learn and adapt.
Of course, a large part of James and Alisa’s story was the food itself. One of the greatest simple pleasures I thoroughly enjoyed throughout their story were the monthly recipes (and a few more if we include the post epilogue), all of which I want to try. Largely what their story showed were the flavours of Vancouver and its 100 mile radius. They showed the immense diversity that exists in such a familiar area to us. Though Kamloops extends beyond this radius- it is a reminder that we are still very geographically fortunate in the Okanagan. There is a lot to be grown, tasted and experienced within 100 miles of our own homes. Plus, there are immense benefits to this which James and Alisa highlight including the actual nutritional value and the accompanying flavour of freshness. Furthermore, you are supporting community, economy and sustainability. It is not only a cool concept, but may prove itself a vital concept in the state of the world with its rising climate issues. Local eating is a reduction of overall packaging wastes and mileage that translates to carbon emissions.
Three months after the beginning of their 100 mile diet adventure, I turned the page on the last of it. Though there is a sense of closure with this, it is really far from the end of my own personal plant learning, appreciation or growth. A lot has happened in between then and now, but this is all still a beginning. Though this is likely going to be the last blog for awhile, it has been fun. In January, prior to all of the stories since, I would not have expected myself to consider many of the things I have considered or done like eating locally this upcoming summer, or possibly giving up meat (Omnivore’s Dilemma) or to have cooked an 100% local meal or to be growing onions at my front door. All of the stories shared this semester has been a gentle reminder to the fact that we have our own stories and relationship with the world around us. Furthemore, documenting this as what has been expected of us, has been another gentle reminder of our own voices. I look forward to other new beginnings and making a space for myself in my own life.
Thank you Lyn for all the assigned readings and blogs, it had been both enlightening and a pleasure. Thank you for also possibly being the only one to have read them other than maybe my mother.