A few weeks ago, I picked up this book, "Plenty: One Man, One Woman and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally" from the Remainders pile at my very favorite local bookstore. I'd heard of it only vaguely, but for $4.99, I was interested enough to buy it. I've got about 40ish pages left for tonight.
Of course deriving one's diet from local food sources is as appealing as it is occasionally challenging; personally, it's a challenge that I try to live up to with every meal. But honestly, I'm feeling conflicted about the premise of a 100-mile radius. It's not that I don't believe it's possible. The authors have certainly proved their point, and as a New Englander, I can also vouch for the wealth and diversity of local sources available with each season. I just don't believe it's the right solution.
What's bugging me is more about the importance, if not criticality of the global market in our food system. I'll be honest: I am not thoroughly educated in the economics of agribusiness. I can't necessarily speak to this point with clear and definitive rationale for my perspective. But I can say with some confidence that buying bananas, coffee, chocolate and so on is crucial to supporting the economies of developing nations and in kind, the livelihoods of their peoples. I don't need to make the obvious point about fair trade practice and principle here, but I do think that the notion of a 100-mile diet is somewhat short-sighted.
I understand that eating locally is more fundamentally meant to turn away from supporting the creation of industrial monocultures, such as big corn and bigger soy, or to conscientiously object to abhorrent living and slaughter conditions on factory farms and ranches and to resist the strawberry in February with a carbon footprint that traces a path to New Zealand. I can get behind those principles pretty easily. But am I going to feel a twinge of guilt for every pinch of delicate fleur-de-sel from Brittany? I am not.
Just for fun, map out your own 100 miles on the website. From Cambridge, MA, I can reach a pretty wide swath of New England that would ensure a rich and robust diet year-round...but my hometown in Connecticut is just out of range.