The 100-mile diet was inspired by the book The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating, and has helped to popularize the local eating movement. The book was written by Canadian couple Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon. It chronicles their experiences eating only foods grown or produced within 100 miles of their home for 1 year, from 2005-2006.
The concepts discussed in the book have garnered media attention since its release, including coverage by CNN and The New York Times. Local eating is tied in with local purchasing, which encourages buying goods and services from others in your community rather than corporations. This concept works to stimulate the local economy and to create local jobs.
There are also other supporting arguments for the diet. Proponents of the local food movement and the 100-Mile Diet encourage eating locally because it reduces your carbon imprint, helping to save the environment. In addition, research has shown people following this diet are more likely to eat more whole foods, and to be healthier.
People following the 100-Mile Diet are forced to carefully examine foods which foods are in season, and to give up processed snacks like factory-made crackers and cookies. Very little local produce is sold at Trader Joe’s, Kroger and Publix, so local eating requires shopping at farmers’ markets or Whole Foods.
Whole Foods does carry some local produce, but requires carefully reading signs and labels, as well as paying a premium price for produce. Local farms and community supported agriculture (CSAs) are a more economical way to purchase fruits and vegetables for the 100-Mile Diet.
Adopting the 100-Mile Diet for you or your family takes both research and dedication.
The first step should be to check for local farmers’ markets or contact local farms to find out if they offer a CSA program. CSAs deliver weekly or biweekly boxes of fresh, local produce. Some CSAs also offer meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products.
The specifics of what you will be eating on the 100-Mile Diet will vary greatly based on your location. Learning what is in season is the least expensive way to follow the 100-Mile Diet, and it may require changing eating patterns, including adopting a plant-based diet in some locations. Agricultural areas may have more options, including more affordable meat and dairy options than those in a large city.
There are inevitably some things you will have to learn to live without on this diet because they are not available locally, and others which may be too expensive to meet your budget. Vinegar and vegetable oil may have to be homemade, and salt, coffee and rice are all difficult to find in many areas. Locating locally-produced flour can also be hard, meaning there is no way to make breads or pasta.
It is also important to can or otherwise preserve fresh produce during the summer months in order to have local food during the winter months in some climates. Many farmers cooperatives have support groups or classes on the local food movement which may provide you with additional resources about following the 100-Mile Diet in your community.
- The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating and Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-Mile Diet, the books that inspired the diet, are both available on Amazon.
- Local-Food Movement: The Lure of the 100-Mile Diet is an article from Time Magazine.
- 100-Mile Diet Might Drive You Mad but Will Inform You Too is an editorial about the pros and cons of the diet from Oregon Live.
- Eco Life discusses the environmental positives of the 100-Mile Diet.
- The Sustainable Ballard blog offers a challenge to the citizens of Ballard, WA to eat only foods from within 100 miles for 1 month.