100 Mile Diet

The 100 Mile Diet is a relatively new diet phenomenon created in 2005 by two young Canadian writers; Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon. The diet was not weight loss inspired at all, but rather based on the couple’s desire to eat local fresh foods.

The essence of the diet is to only eat foods grown within a hundred mile radius of where you are located at any given time. Thus, if you are at home in Cincinnati or on vacation in the Bahamas, this means eating all food local to where you are.

The diet’s creators say that the 100 mile radius is just enough to keep it from being impossible to find food, but close enough to still get that fresh, local feel.

And most importantly you’ll know what you’re eating. Too many food products are dripping in pesticides; are genetically modified, or raised in a box. This all affects the healthiness and flavour of the products. While local farmers probably use pesticides on their food as well, it will be easier to find out exactly what chemicals are in your food. And as smith and MacKinnon point out, “When in doubt, [you] can drive out to the farms and see for yourself”.

And while this diet is not about losing weight, you will inevitably do so. This is because by confining your eating to local products you cut out a lot of refined, processed and fattening foods that were probably a good portion of your former diet. Fresh foods are naturally lower in calories and higher in nutrients, making you feel fabulous, satiated and healthy all over. In fact Smith and MacKinnon say they, “felt better than ever. We ate more vegetables and fewer processed products, sampled a wider variety of foods, and ate more fresh food at its nutritional peak. Eating from farmers’ markets and cooking from scratch, we never felt a need to count calories.”

And this regime doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Many people see the price of costly organic foods or fresh fruits and vegetables and simply can’t afford it. But if you examine closely, the desired product is probably out of season and therefore you are paying a higher premium for this product to get to you. For example, New Yorkers have become accustomed to eating strawberries or cherries in the winter, which have to travel thousands of miles to reach them. On this regime, dieters reconnect with the seasons, eating fresh produce that was likely picked within 24 hours of consumption and significantly cheaper because of its proximity and availability.

A bit of a twist on eating organic, the diet is actually often referred to as “the new organic”, as eating locally raised/grown food almost guarantees that it will be better tasting, better for the environment, better for local economies, and better for your health.

While Smith and MacKinnon held the diet for a whole year, others try it for shorter time periods, or simply incorporate aspects of the regime into their daily food habits. The diet is difficult to follow one hundred percent of the time, but a suggestion would be to plan some meals with local foods in mind.

After finishing their year-long diet the two wrote a book documenting their experience. For people wishing to try the regime, you can read up on it through their book called “The 100 Mile Diet: Local Eating for Global Change”, or seek out one of the other available resources. If you visit their website they have a list of local farmers markets located all across the United States and Canada to help people find locally grown food.

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