7.06.2009

Eating good in the neighborhood



I just finished this book (Plenty for those of us in the US, the Canadian version is called the 100 mile diet). I wanted to give it a little review, because I really enjoyed it and more and more I am just becoming obsessed with this topic. This book is about a canadian couple who decide to spend the entire year eating nothing but foods that were grown within a one-hundred mile radius of their home in British Colombia. While the majority of the book talks about that area, it's history and the foods that one would find naturally there- it still inspires one to look into the history of food of your own area. They venture off to other places occasionally too. There are two things I love about this book, one- is that it is abosolutely not dogmatic. The couple struggles with their decision and they are not much into gardening, which creates a lot of work for themselves, but also shows the possiblities to an urban population. They decide to allow themselves to eat whatever they want in certain situations where it might seems rude not to. They also need to make some changes to their vegetarian diet in order to gain back the nutrition lost from not having access to beans and soy. I like that. Too often we meet individuals who delight in splitting hairs, I find that idealism is fine for some but generally hard for most people to uphold. And it ends up discouraging those with good intentions. In addition, it's just not realistic all the time, there are many countries who would see "vegetarianism" as a luxury of the rich, and would find it absurd.

The second thing I loved about this book was the personal journey taken by the two authors. They trade-off months, taking turns writing about one another which was very entertaining. They are both great writers and go through what seemed like pretty different experiences with the whole thing, with some unexpected and very sweet results.

I've eaten many meals lately that contained more than half locally grown or produced ingredients. There's a fairly healthy movement here in louisville towards supporting local farms and businesses, so it's not that hard. The beauty of this book lies not in the vegetables though, because while exciting- they're not really the crux of the locavore's problems. You really share their joy when, after seven months they finally find a local wheat farmer. And one really begins to question the need for so many things that we just buy out of habit. I'm slowly starting to pare back the kitchen to less and less processed foods and more homemade, fresh fare, it's nice, it feels good.

I'm now inspired to find out even more about some foods that can be grown here and only here, foods that are truly unique to our area. I know of one, the pawpaw A fruit tree that produces a banana-type fruit. It's so fragile that it can't really be shipped, so it's not something you'd ever see in a store. But we always keep a lookout for them, and I've had a chance to taste one- it was really good.
If you're curious, there's more info on the 100 mile diet here.

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