by: Tania Melkonian
July 20, 2012
When Vancouver couple Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon began their experiment – to eat only foods grown and produced within 100 miles of their home – they reported dubiety. This doubt was reflected in the first chapter of their book, The 100 Mile Diet (now among the locavore’s principal reference manuals) when Smith asks MacKinnon, “Is this even possible?”1.
Is it even possible, indeed. Is it even worth it? What is the true value of eating locally? Why do we so instantly accept the bumper sticker worthy message. Is it about taste, social justice, or ecology?
James McWilliams articulates beautifully in Just Food that we are homesick for a time when our food supply was pure, unmitigated and pastoral. He also believes that this epoch never existed but in our nostalgic reminiscence. ‘For 10,000 years humans have systematically manipulated nature to our advantage by making plants and animals do our bidding’2, he says. It would be impossible then, to return to this simple time just by undoing what agribusiness has done to our food production, proffers McWilliams, as this era never really was.
Without this template of the past upon which to navigate our food future, we are left with a mission that is decidedly contemporary. As such, it should be pursued with the objective of resolving contemporary issues. Eating locally: Is the true benefit to the individual living in the world now; to the current global community; or to the planet earth of today …or to none of the above?