The 100 Mile Diet
A study by Chris Goodall, author of How to Live a Low Carbon Life, purports to show that walking to a store three miles away actually contributes more to global warming than driving a car would, due to the carbon intensive system of food production we have developed--especially when it comes to beef.
While I'm a bit skeptical about the findings--he counts all of the inputs that go into creating and transporting food, but doesn't seem to count the energy required to build and transport cars--Goodall does raise an important point: our agricultural system is increasingly oil and gas dependent. Food sold in the U.S. is now shipped in from an average of 1,500 miles away--a 25% increase from 1980.
That's the impetus behind the 100 mile diet. Starting in 2005, Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon, of British Columbia decided to try to live for one year buying or gathering their food and drink from within 100 miles of their apartment in Vancouver, British Columbia. Within weeks of their announcement on their blog, word had spread around the world.
This year 80 Seattle residents signed on to an experiment to eat only food grown within 100 miles of home for the month of August. In addition to the desire to reduce fossil fuel use, the participants are finding that the food is fresher and better tasting, they are getting to know local farmers and businesses, and with stories of tainted food from China, they feel safer knowing where their food is coming from.
The Seattle project comes on top of the 10,000 people who have pledged to do their own 100 mile experiment.
Should a real oil crunch come, the 100 mile diet may become a necessity. As Cuba found out after the collapse of the Soviet Union cut off their oil supplies, locally grown food can literally be a life saver.