Monday, August 1, 2011

100 Mile Diet: Installment 4

Let's Be Reasonable

Hello everyone!

Welcome to the month of the 100 Mile Diet challenge! Somehow it is already August, the kick off event has already happened (thank you to everyone who came!), and it's time to get down to business.

Initially Erik and I had planned to do our 100 Mile Diet for the month of August--the first through the thirty first. Then life got a little wacky, and suddenly there were two family trips taking up the first two weeks of the month. Not that we're complaining--it's time away in the summer, after all--but our 100 Mile Diet plans seemed a little out of touch. Because of that, we've decided to start our 100 Mile Diet in a couple of weeks, after all of the traveling is done. Check back in with us as we start officially on August 14th.

This little scheduling episode is a perfect example of what I have come to call the "let's be reasonable" phenomenon. Packing all 100 Mile backpacking food? Probably not reasonable. Not eating local cheese because the cultures used to make it aren't local? Probably not reasonable. Driving to the Pacific Ocean to lug seawater home and evaporate your own salt? Probably not reasonable.

This 100 Mile thing can get out of hand really quick! I really admire Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon (authors of Plenty), because although they were very strict with their 100 Mile Diet, they managed to avoid being absurd or unreasonable. They used the salt they had in their cupboards. They ate out on occasion. They happily ate out of season, processed, or otherwise off-limits foods when they were prepared by friends and family. They were reasonable. They weren't rude. They didn't preach to other people about their personal eating choices. And this is a hard thing to do when you are passionate about an issue.

Angelina Williamson, who spoke for us at the kick-off event, also touched on this issue of being reasonable in her presentation. Her son, for example, is an extremely picky eater. As she said, "letting my kid starve was not an option." Also, going without coffee was not an option (not worth the migraines). At the opening of her talk she put up a slide with a list of items she allowed herself that did not fit the 100 mile criteria. Among them were: baking soda, salt, spices, coffee, and vinegar. Oh, right. Basic things: leavening, flavor, preservative qualities, sanity-offering qualities. She also mentioned that these are all items that have been traded for a really, really long time now. At some point the argument that these few luxury items, ones that are consumed in relatively small quantity, are destroying our food systems and our planet rings a little hollow. Even folks living in the frontier west would get oranges once a year. (Did you read the Little House on the Prairie series? I did.) They bought salt and probably a few spices. These were things available long before apples were flown in from New Zealand or the Amazon rainforest began to be razed to plant soybeans. Seems reasonable to allow a few of them to squeak through the kitchen hazing process.

At what point does the "let's be reasonable" argument kick in for you? Would you be willing to deny yourself salt or spices in the name of eating a 100% 100 mile diet? Or would you be content to work harder to source staples from within that 100 miles--grains, beans, meat, produce, milk--and to cook more of your food yourself rather than reaching for a box, and let a few favorite spices stay in the cupboard? Would you prep and dry 100 mile backpacking meals to feed five people for four days, or would you go to Winco and buy your once or twice a year packets of Ramen noodles? Let me know what you think in the comments, and share with us what you think is reasonable to do as you plan for or start your 100 Mile Diet.

Talk to you all soon,

No comments: