The Accidental 100 Mile Diet

Somebody I know is starting the 100 mile diet this weekend. Until Thanksgiving, he’s going to try to only eat food produced within 100 miles (160.934 km) from his home in Vancouver. It’s an admirable pursuit. He loves a chore, so I expect he’ll do very well at it.

The purpose, in case you missed it, is to only consume locally grown food, reducing one’s impact on the environment. According to Wikipedia, food in North America typically travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate.

Here on Malta’s smaller island, we’re accidentally engaged in this eating model. Last week we were at the butcher buying some chicken breasts:

JULIE: Where’s your chicken from?
BUTCHER: They’re local. These were killed this morning.

Distance from farm to plate? Probably less than 5 km.

I’m really surprised by the diversity of food that’s locally produced. All of our chicken, fish, pasta, bread, wine, dairy, fruit and vegetables (from fava beans to asparagus, from bananas to watermelon) is local. Some of the canned goods–ketchup, for example–are produced in Malta. Heck, even the Coke I’m drinking is bottled on the main island.

There are certainly some exceptions. Oddly, our Dijon mustard is from Dublin and we’ve got biscuits from Germany. Still, I’d say 90% of our diet falls into a 100-mile radius. That makes me feel slightly less guilty about all the air travel we’re doing. We’re buying carbon credits, but it’s still sub-optimal.


  1. Will he be writing about it anywhere?

    I’m curious to know about the experience of the 100 Mile diet in the Vancouver area from someone other than the original writers of the book.

  2. Bollocks – demonstrates a total lack of understanding of science, economics. Shipping 1 tonne of food 1500km uses less resources than shipping 100kg 100km from a local farmer to several small markets – and, food can be grown in the most optimal environment if it is shipped further. No need to heat greenhouses to grow fruit in the temperate regions.

  3. Hi John,

    I am currently studying the topic of food miles in school right now (OK, not me precisely, but I know a lot of people who are). Can you please elaborate on your analysis, or point me to a place that refutes the Food Mile methodology? I don’t know enough about either science or economics to say one way or another, so you’ve got me captivated.



  4. Re: food miles. The reductive questions of economics do not come close to answering the omnivore’s dilemma: since I can eat pretty much anything, what should I eat. The connection with food is way more than just dollars and cents.

    In my experience wherever I have live local food is simply better: better for me, better for the environment, better for my sense of place, better for my neighbours, better for my community. I don’t get the sense that any of that would show up on a spreadsheet.

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