Smith, A., & MacKinnon, J, B. (2007). The 100 Mile Diet: a year of local eating. Vintage House, Toronto

Local food.

What does this statement mean to you?

It isn’t a simple idea.  For some this summons images of abundance.  Of flavourful ripe fruits and vegetables.  And even community around food.

For others local food simply means frugal living.  We live in a global age, why limit ourselves to local production?

But this raises a question.  What brings us happiness?  Does eating strawberries in January and asparagus in October improve our quality of life?

This was the large question that was looked at by James MacKinnon and Alisa Smith in their year of local eating experiment.  I think that the answer is both yes and no.  Eating locally can be difficult and frustrating at times, especially when non local options are not only available, but encouraged.  They seemed to ultimately emerge from the year as feeling far more connected to the place where they live though.  With a 100 mile limit on where you source your food, the world becomes a smaller place.  Those mysterious farms that we all simply drive past at high speed gain a new identity.  Farms now contain opportunity.  There is inherent value in feeling connected to your local food. This connection broadens to give you the feeling of being connected to your local place.  Why should we relegate food to only the kitchen, it can become an intrinsic part of our lives.  This was the aspect of James and Alisa’s story that I really enjoyed.  Changing to eating local food altered many other aspects of their lives as well, and mostly in positive ways.

While reading I was reminded of a recent discussion on philosophy.  This particular way of thinking about the world said that if we raise our expectations beyond reality we will be consistently be disappointed.  For example, why go to a public pool expecting to sit in the hot tub in peace, and then become angry when there are children splashing and yelling.  This is a part of the nature of experience in a public pool.  We should instead adjust our wants in line with reality, and then we will be content.  So if we expect to eat melons and grapes during all seasons, and then discover that we cannot eat these as part of a local diet, why become disappointed?  This is not the nature of local eating.  We could instead re-align our expectations with the nature of the world.

Find contentment in simplicity.