The 100-mile diet is a great way to learn about your local farming community, get healthier, and choose a sustainable way of eating. It is not quite as serious as eating a hyperlocavore, zero-mile diet, but it is a great step towards a more sustainable lifestyle and will dramatically lower your carbon footprint.
What is the 100-mile diet?
The concept of the 100-mile diet forces a mental shift from eating globally to think more locally to ensure everything you eat is within a 100 mile radius of your table. Though going cold turkey into eating within such a restricted geographical region may not be for everyone you can start with a single family meal. This forces you to research and explore what’s actually grown close to your home and you’ll begin to appreciate not only the bounty of your local region, but the major implications of eating foods from around the world.
The benefits of eating a 100-mile diet
Choosing to consume food that is produced within 100 miles of your home comes with all of the benefits of local, seasonal eating: more flavorful foods, smaller environmental footprint, better health, and support for local farmers. But there’s more to it than that. A 100-mile diet comes with these extra benefits:
- Weight loss: Though not a guarantee, by eating whole foods (lots of vegetables, fruits, and grains), you may find that you’ll lose weight. Processed foods are often packed with fat, salt, and simple carbohydrates, all which can contribute to weight gain. Unless you’ve got a food packaging plant near your home making pre-made dinners, cutting all these, as well as sugary beverages, out of your diet, will ensure you consume higher quality of food and weight loss may soon follow.
- New flavor sensations: If you’ve limited your diet to what is available in the local grocery store, you may have missed the amazing fruits and vegetables that can be grown near your home! Often these native, heritage foods have unique and amazing tastes, unlike the mono-cultured species grown on mega farms.
- Hyper awareness: Though you’ll certainly learn more about the kinds of foods grown within your region by shopping at a farmer’s market or participating in a CSA or food co-op, the lessons you’ll learn about where food comes from and what can be produced in your area by eating a 100-mile diet will be much more tangible and lasting.
How to get start finding (and eating!) 100-mile food
Want some ideas on how to start eating a 100-mile diet? These basic steps will put you on the right track:
- Start simple: Whether it’s inviting your neighbors over for a meal made entirely from your garden produce or going scavenging with your kids to produce an afternoon picnic, there are many small ways to explore eating 100-mile foods. Just like Meatless Mondays, why not try for 100-mile Saturdays?
- Connect with local farmers: Whether you shop at a farmers market, participate in a CSA, or get together with a food co-op group, by connecting personally with your local farmers, you’ll have a much easier time finding the food that you need. If all else fails, drive around until you find a farmer who grows what you’re looking for and then knock on their door! They may be quite happy to see you.
- Grow your own: Having a garden in your back yard (or a victory garden in your front yard!) is a great way to eat locally, even if you only grow 5 vegetables. Plus, it’ll get you back into nature which is very healthy for your body and soul.
- Buy bulk and preserve: When shopping, buy full flats of fruits or big bushels of veggies and then preserve them through canning, jamming, pickling, and freezing. Find out all about food saving through the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
- Relax: You don’t have to cultivate a 100-mile diet over night, so don’t let this new way of thinking take over your life. Relax, enjoy the journey, and have fun knowing you’re doing a good thing for you and the planet.
If you need a little more guidance, here are a few online communities that provide assistance and educational resources for those looking to cultivate a 100-mile diet: