The 100-Mile Journey

Smith, A., MacKinnon, J.B. (2007). The 100-Mile Diet: a year of local eating. Toronto: Vintage Canada. p. 147-252.

After a busy week, I find myself reading the second half of the 100-Mile Diet on this Easter Sunday afternoon (better late than never!) Wait a minute.. is this really my last blog post?! Time sure flies! I’m excitedly delving back into the world of Alisa and James to see how they finish their 100-mile journey.

First of all, I can still tell when Alisa is writing – her humour definitely shines through! I loved how she described preparing and freezing their freshly shucked corn by stating that it “sounded, at best, like a Mormon’s idea of a good-time Saturday night,”(p.151). Being the massive pun-lover I am, it made me laugh at how the slogan for the mason jars was “BECAUSE YOU CAN” (p.152).

budget-canning-jars

The ideas introduced early on in the reading were extremely powerful. It was once believed among the traditional cultures of the abundant Pacific Northwest, [that] a “poor person was someone who never troubled to catch his own salmon, but was instead content to eat food produced by others,” (p.160-61). This really got me thinking, when was the last time I had actually ‘gathered’ my own food? Last summer in my garden. The reliance on mass food producers has caused a majority of us to become less reliant on ourselves, so much so that we never stop to think that for thousands of years, hunting and gathering food was mandatory for our survival. Many of the cultural ways of knowing as well, such as certain preservation techniques, fishing and hunting methods, and even the identification of edible plants, have been lost. I feel that a majority of my generation could be considered ‘poor‘ because we’ve lost the opportunity to master these arts of harvesting, hunting, and gathering, all of which require a whole lot of perseverance and dedication. This thought is brought up again while Alisa is on an assignment on Kuper Island. While there, she speaks with a man named August Sylvester, who spent much of his time on the sea with his grandfather, gathering food and visiting far-flung family,” (p.193). I found it so interesting when August said “now people think you have to be pretty poor to pick food off the ground as we did,” (p.195). It is so fascinating to me that in this day and age, we perceive those who live off the land as ‘poor’, where we once considered people who were “content to eat food produced by others,” as poor – it’s as though everything is reversed.

Farmer's Market - Vegetables

As I read further, I began to feel a bit sorry for Alisa. Although I wasn’t a big fan of her brining in all of the relationship issues with James, it really seemed like she was struggling. When she states that “I’m thirty-three years old, always broke, and merely existing, in what, without having been sealed by formal weeding vows, had become a traditional marriage,”(p. 164), and “It really was Little House on the freaking Prairie,“(p.165), you can just feel her frustration through the pages.

Things then began to change for the better once November striked. When Alisa found a wheat farmer by the name of Hamish Crawford, she appears to have had her spirits lifted (p.185). I really enjoyed this chapter; I loved how Hamish says when you eat locally “You don’t ever have to sit down for a meal and just go blah,” (p.187). You can make a meal exciting – you just need to be immersed in the process of making it! I feel that Alisa realizes this when she triumphantly whipped up the chum soup for herself and James. Her meal was the “simplest soup, but [she] had put so much into it,” (p.210). It is a seemingly simple task to make soup, but it’s the gesture of making a soup from scratch and with local ingredients is what makes it exciting.

As the couple reached the end of their 100-mile diet journey, they considered each meal to  be “a memoir,” (p.230), which I loved. With each meal they created, they had a story to go with it – I doubt you could say the same about a microwave dinner. While reading about  Alisa and James’s travels to Mexico, I’m now really eager to try the local eats in Belize while I’m there next month! I know we’ll be visiting a few farms, so I’ll be sure to learn as much as I can about their ways of farming! Well, after finishing the book, I have nothing but good things to say! This book has inspired me to try my hardest to  eat locally, and enjoy the process of not only sourcing the ingredients, but cooking the meals themselves.

This being my last entry for my Plants and People musings, I thought I would say a few words of my experiences! Coming out of this course, I now view what I eat in a whole new light, I find myself being so much more cautious of where my food comes from, and I can’t wait to go to the Farmer’s Market this Spring to attempt more recipes made with local ingredients! This class has been such a delight to be in, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store these next couple of weeks! Thank you Lyn for introducing me to so many wonderful authors, and for all of the neat things you’ve taught me and my classmates this semester! I  truly couldn’t have picked a better elective!

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