Thursday, June 21, 2012

Books, Food and Local Eating

The Climate Crusader is sharing the books that turned her on to local eating.

Summer is officially here, and with it the high season of local eating. While I am not a strict locavore, as more and more fresh produce shows up at my farmers' market, my garden starts producing and my CSA starts delivering weekly shares, the portion of my food that's locally grown rises. At this time of the year, when strawberries are ripe and the lettuce is tender, eating seasonally is easier.

By now, we probably all know the reasons that local eating is important. "Food miles" - which refer to how far your food traveled to reach your plate - are a significant part of your carbon footprint. Locally-grown food is also typically fresher, which means fewer of its nutrients have been lost. Plus, when you buy local, you're supporting your local economy and helping to create a stable food community. These are all good things.

Since we're profiling books during June, I thought that today I'd share three books that really got me started on my local eating journey.

The 100-Mile Diet

The 100-Mile Diet was published as Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally in the United States. Since I'm Canadian, though, I read the Canadian version. The book chronicles the adventures of one couple who committed to eating only foods grown within 100 miles of their home for one year. Since they live in Vancouver, as I do, much of what they shared was directly applicable to me. This is the book that truly opened my eyes to how far removed we are from the food we eat.

The Omnivore's Dilemma

I have never been a big fan of corn, but after reading The Omnivore's Dilemma I realized that I sure do eat a lot of it. Corn is in almost any processed or packaged food you buy, in the form of ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, corn starch and maltodextrin, among many others. This book was my primer on the politics of food production, and how modern agri-business operates. It also made me consider the implications of what that means for us and our health.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

This book shares a family's year-long adventure in local food, from their farm in Southern Appalachia. This book encouraged me to try things like making my own cheese (the ricotta went well, the mozzarella not so much). It also made me long to have my own chickens one day. How connected are you to the food you eat? What does it mean to eat something that you grew yourself? These are the sorts of questions that I found myself asking after reading this book.

As I said, I'm not a strict locavore. I do enjoy bananas, for instance, even though I live in Canada. But all the same, I think it's good to consider the impact of our choices. I also think it's important to understand the political forces that are at play in our lives. These three books helped me do just that.

What about you - do you try to eat local? What books influenced your decision?


Eco Yogini said...

i have yet to read 100mile diet- but i've heard such good things about it!

Weirdly, there isn't any specific 'local eating' book that influenced our decision to try to eat locally (although Omnivore's Dilemma was an interesting read).

I think it was all the blogs and general eco-books (like Ecoholic) that did it for me :)

carbon credit investments said...


How does one find local, naturally grown ec-stores in your own area? Just a google search?

Lisa Corriveau said...

I've been reading Whole Foods To Thrive (review coming soon) & it's made me rethink the whole food miles thing. What you eat is probably more important than where it comes from. Beef, for example, uses more resources (water, land, energy) than a banana, even if the banana was shipped all the way from Ecuador & the beef was from Pemberton.

It's a struggle though, because I'm not really ready to be vegan again. I like eating meat.

Michael Pollan's book--In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, I think it's called?--also helped me reframe what I consider to be food. I use his simple rules & try to avoid stuff with more than five things, numbers or unpronounceable chemicals in the ingredients. *Try* being the operative word. I still eat processed 'food' because I'm just not interested enough in cooking or baking to make everything myself.


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