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The 100-mile Diet

100_MilesAn impromptu meal on a cold evening in a remote Canadian wilderness cottage with a group of friends was the catalyst that began what is now a worldwide trend.

Because of that memorable and life-changing meal, Alisa Smith, a freelance writer, and prize-winning author, J.B. MacKinnon, decided to only eat foods that were grown or produced within a 100-mile radius of their Vancouver apartment.

They had no idea this decision would see them become 'celebrities of the blogosphere'. Nor did they realise that their influence would be felt on menus from Canada to Canberra, from northern British Columbia, the site of that first inspirational meal, to Australia (where it sometimes reappears as the 160-kilometre diet) and other continents. Or that it would have its own entry on Wikipedia!

Even those who may not feel a heavy responsibility to the planet will love this book. Beautifully written, it challenges the reader to think, to revaluate and to relearn traditional patterns of cooking and eating.

Without realising it - simply by following a dream inspired by a lake-caught fish and some foraged fruit, vegetables and mushrooms - the pair hit a chord with people around the world.

Global media tuned in to the project, food-lovers nodded in agreement, families made it their project too, and a generation was influenced.

"Eating locally isn't just a fad - it may be one of the most important ways we save ourselves and the planet," says global climate change activist, David Suzuki.

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Almost ten years earlier, in 1999, Sally & Gordon Hammond published a thick book, the Australian Regional Food Guide, believing that eating locally was the best way to enjoy food at its finest, to honour and support local producers, and to help the next generation of children to understand where their food comes from and the effort which goes into producing it.

This book (and its sequel in 2004) was the basis for the website which now has over 4000 listings of people who produce and showcase regional produce in their stores or on their tables. Sometimes the food comes from as close as the back garden. Almost without exception it is fresher and tastier than you could imagine. Alisa Smith & J.B. MacKinnon would understand why.

The 100-mile Diet - a year of local eating, by Alisa Smith & J.B. MacKinnon, paperback, Vintage Canada, 2007, rrp Can$21. ISBN 978 0 679 31483 7

 

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