Local living

Smith A, MacKinnon JB. 2007. The 100 mile diet: a year of local eating. Toronto (ON): Vintage Canada Edition. p. 149-252.

Going through the motions. A cardinal sin in my mind. The last half of the 100 mile diet, starts to do this. Instead of it being about Alisa and James’ relationship with the food and the community, it becomes about their relationship.

In particular I didn’t like the end of the October chapter. I really can’t figure out why Alisa would talk about her relationship so negatively in this book (p. 168). Why would you want to air your dirty laundry like that for everybody? I’m sure there is a reason that I am overlooking otherwise it would not have been published. Was it to symbolize the dreariness they felt at that time of year? I do not know, but I didn’t appreciate it.

After reading the first half of the book, many of the people in our class talked about how they disliked James and liked Alisa. I feel the opposite about the situation. I understand that Alisa’s sections made the book more of a complete story (which we love) and she put the book into the context of their lives. However, sometimes she went too far, and it took away from the message of their story and focused too much on her life. For example on page 201 when Alisa is visiting her grandmother. She talks about how they un-enthusiastically watch Seinfeld and her grandmother asks her to take her to Wal-Mart to buy a lamp. It’s not that I don’t love a good story. However, other than this diet, Alisa’s life is fairly plain and it’s not why I was excited to read this book.

The authors do manage to bring up some good points in the latter half of the book though. One of the quotes I do like from Alisa was, “Despite eating more than ever before, our culture may be the only one in human history to value food so little…Among the traditional cultures of the Pacific Northwest, a ‘poor’ person was someone who never troubled to catch his own salmon, but was instead content to eat food produced by others. By measures like these we are nearly all poor.” (p. 160-161) Relating back to the local meal we had with our class, people were buzzing with pride over their food. Every dish had ingredients we could trace back to the places and faces where we found them. Many of the dishes were relatively simple dishes and would not be considered fancy by any stretch of the word. However, the food had some of the fullest flavours I have tasted in quite some time.

My generation has grown up in a time of abundance. We have experienced no great war, famine or natural disaster that has effected shaken the foundation of our daily life. Due to this, we have taken food and water for granted. We have confidence that it will be there tomorrow, and we often have the luxury to choose what we will have. But we don’t see it as a luxury. Our human nature has made it an expectation.

I think back to my Grandma when confronted with this thought. She was a woman who lived through two World Wars and the Great Depression. A Christian woman, The Lord’s Prayer is no doubt something she had said numerous times. “Give us this day our daily bread” it says. There must have been times in her life that she was unimaginably grateful for bread. Bread. Something anyone can cheaply buy right now was a saving grace. That’s so powerful to me. That time just wasn’t all that far away.

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