The 100-mile diet

How many of the resources we consume come from our local communities? Not many. Take food, for instance. The average ingredient travels 1,500 miles to our dinner plates.

Eating food grown in a different locale than our own has detrimental effects on our health and on the health of the environment. Consider the environmental impact of producing, packaging, preserving and transporting food.

 

Consuming local resources, albeit sustainably, is an immediate way to improve our health and reduce our ecological footprint. So how can we do this? Well, one great way to consume locally is to try the 100-mile diet, i.e., only consuming food harvested within a 100-mile radius of where we live. This means thinking about our eating habits, reading food labels carefully (especially the ones that say “Made in USA”), reaching out to local farmers, and if we’re daring, growing our own food.

By prescribing to the 100-mile diet, we’ll become conscious eaters, improve our health and invest in the wellbeing of our local communities, so be sure to check it out.

The idea has been extended to the 100-mile house, i.e., only building with materials available within a 100-mile radius of the house.

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About Ranjodh Singh
I'm currently an Ally in the Public Allies New York Apprenticeship (www.publicallies.org). Through the apprenticeship, I'm partnered with NYCRx (www.nyxrc.org), a nonprofit organization that improves the health of New Yorkers using public health interventions. I'm excited to continue serving, but doing so closer to health and medicine. I'm also enjoying NYC, which I find to be an enriching environment.

2 Responses to The 100-mile diet

  1. Chintan says:

    Hey Ranjodh,

    This is a really cool concept and one that I would love to be able to adopt, but I find a lot of obstacles to prevent me from being able to. For examplr, having dietary restrictions (I’m vegetarian and living in Texas where we mostly grow cotton and cattle), not being a local person (I travel more than 1500 miles as a part of my work commute), and a lot of regulatory limitations (I can’t just get a laari with food from a nearby farm where I live). I sometimes feel like this kind of thing is actually a lot easier in developing countries than it is in America. Let me know if you got any ideas to help implement this. We already grow vegetables in our backyard when the season permits…

    • Hi Chintan, I understand your concerns. I’d recommend a couple of things:

      1. Just have a look around where you live in TX. I wouldn’t be surprised if you find local farmers who farm with integrity and care, and grow something besides cattle and cotton 🙂 Specifically look for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). In my own research, the internet has been a wonderful tool. If after a thorough look-around, you’re still not able to find locally grown food, then I think it’s fine to settle for other options, e.g., neighboring towns, cities, and states that may have local farms.

      2. Since you’re travelling often, I’d find places to eat at your destinations that support local farmers. Apply the 100-mile radius from the place where you eat food. So, if you’re in NYC, for instance, use that as the epicenter for the 100-mile radius.

      For (1) and (2), use the following links:

      http://www.eatwellguide.org/i.php?pd=Home – Find local food
      http://www.sustainabletable.org/shop/seasonal/ – Seasonal eating
      http://www.nrdc.org/living/shoppingwise/default.asp – Living sustainably, eating well

      3. The 100-mile diet helps us become conscious eaters through dietary experimentation. So, don’t let the 100-mile diet be a dietary straitjacket, i.e., don’t treat it as an all-or-nothing deal. Start small and then expand from there. Depending on your own research, if you decide, for example, that you’ll get all your veggies from local farms, I’d say that’s a step forward 🙂 You can then add other types of food to the list.

      I’d appreciate your thoughts on all this, Chintan.
      love,
      ranjodh

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