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Finding my way back to the farm

Lisa Richardson maps out the logistics of a 100-mile diet, pondering community greenhouses, organic farm harvest boxes, and how to live without avocados.



Award-winning non-fiction writer, JB MacKinnon must have learned a few things about culture-jamming during his stint as editor at Adbusters magazine. After all, his 100 Mile Diet, in which MacKinnon and partner Alisa Smith committed to only eating food grown within 100 miles of their Vancouver apartment for an entire year, tapped a psychosocial vein, and sprouted a movement.

I pull out my protractor and draw a circle around Pemberton. 100 miles. Could I do that?

Food experiments aren’t unusual in my life. As dirtbag rockclimbers – striving to live on as little money as possible in order to avoid gainful employment, thereby allowing more time for climbing – my partner and I have experimented with dumpster-diving, bear-proof storage container raiding, and the Indian Experiment, during which we limited our consumption exclusively to Indian cuisine (it’s cheap! no refrigeration required!), developing a vast repertoire of dhal recipes that all tasted pretty much alike and a temporary case of repetitive strain injury from rolling out rotis with wine bottles.

For Vancouverites MacKinnon and Smith, the 100 Mile Diet was a crash course in the effects of globalization. By foregoing foods grown beyond 100 miles, they spent nine months on a bread-fast until they sourced a grower of heritage grains on Vancouver Island, renounced their vegan ways for seasonal fish and free-range eggs from the UBC garden, and effectively eliminated chocolate, avocadoes and bananas from the table.

That’s a lot of good stuff to forego. I think with longing of my mum’s garden in Australia where she grew, without any apparent effort, mangoes, bananas, avocados, passion fruit and a host of herbs she’d send me to raid before dinner.

I canvass my refrigerator and realize the ugly truth – demographically, I belong to the second-generation of fast-food eaters. I have come to take convenience for granted. I eat with wanton disregard for the seasons. I have very little idea how to prepare raw produce, unless there is a wok or bottle of salad dressing involved. Exhibit A: the incriminating pantry staples. Frozen pizza that makes late-night dinner prep emergencies smack of freezer burn, edamame, white bread, peanut butter, crackers, muesli bars, cheese… a serious dearth of fruit and veggies apart from the bananas and frozen berries that blend into a fine smoothie.

Verdict? I am guilty of crimes against gastronomy.

I’m intestinally ready for an overhaul. I’m politically ready for an awakening. A food experiment, à la the 100 Mile Diet, could hardly hurt.

On the Eating Local buzz

Eating locally has become a buzzword for a new political paradigm. Why is it arising? Because we’re at a point in time where we could not be any further removed from the source of our food – in terms of geographic distance, or emotional connection.

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