Pleasure and Purity; A Story of Local Eating

Pleasure and Purity; A Story of Local Eating

Biology 3430

Anisha Parekh


I never did like East Indian food. See, this is a shame because, well, I am East Indian. While the majority of my peers longed for the spices that my culture delivered to the table, I often coveted classic Italian cuisine. The garlic infused oils, fantastic utilization of fresh veggies and herbs, and of course, pasta. When the opportunity to delve into local eating presented itself, I couldn’t help but reminisce on my deep yearning for Italian food. After being given this project, I immediately thought of gnocchi and pesto. It was probably just a momentary craving. I set my sights on this pairing and began my research. As I lay on my couch, my laptop buzzing with recipes, I began to fear my ability to pull off this assignment. Gnocchi seemed incredibly difficult, and local pesto seemed like a whole other challenge. My sister laughed when I finished telling her about my task, saying,

“Wow! I’m sure surprised you didn’t pick your oh so favourite scalloped potatoes.”


I hated myself for not thinking of scalloped potatoes before I finalized my recipe, as this would have been a simple, less than ten ingredient dish. Oh well. No pain, no gain, as they say. I chose the road less travelled, and by doing so, I was about to embark on a journey that taught me history of not only Italian cooking, but the history of basil and potatoes, and most definitely some pretty darn cool botanical facts. Above all, I was unaware that I was about to be enlightened about the joys of local eating.

As I embarked on this adventure, I mentally accounted for information I could gather that may be useful to my task. This is how I live my life, in lists. First and foremost, I wanted a better understanding of my main plant ingredients; potatoes and basil. Where did these plants come from? What did they offer to humanity? What were they all about? These were among the questions ticking in my head. I, the journalist, and the plants, my interviewees.

I started with the most abundant ingredient in my recipe, the potato. With the help of my good friend, the internet, I soon was swimming in amples of information to sort through about the potato, or the Solanum tuberosum. I collectively found out that the potato is native to the Andes. The potato was important to the people of the Andes because of its ability to thrive in harsh weather in high altitudes. Possibly thousands of years ago, early farmers in the area shared their crops farther north and south. The dominant spread of the potato was result of the Spanish invasion of South America in the 1500s.

Today, we are mainly familiar with the popular classics like russet, and Yukon gold, although there are an abundance of wild potato species. This diversity is beneficial for potato breeders who can isolate traits that are found in the wild species, such as disease resistance.

Potatoes are often looked down upon these days based on the fact that they are very filling and often linked to weight gain. I took this opportunity to really delve into my project and find out the truth behind potatoes, and to grasp knowledge about this spud at closer level.

Potatoes are very low in protein and sodium, and high in dietary fibre vitamin C, B and potassium. They have a relatively low amount of naturally occurring fats and sugars. Corn, white bread, beans, pasta, bread, rice. The are all common sources of carbohydrates. Compared to these foods, potatoes have a inferior energy density and supply less calories per gram of food (McGill et al., 2013). I was pretty disappointed to hear that French fries were an exception to this. Typical to many things these days, I found out that potatoes can be good in moderation, and their link to weightloss is still highly debatable. So, if you tend to have hashbrowns for breakfast, french fries for lunch, and a twiced baked potato for dinner, you may gain a pound or two, but hey, I’m no dietary nutritionist. Although the topic of potatoes and weight loss is uncertain, they do have encouraging benefits to cardiometabolic health in humans, such as lowering BP, improving lipid profiles, and decreasing markers of inflammation (Mcgill et al., 2013).

With my discovery of the micro and macronutrients of potatoes, I decided that was enough for me, and that was as close to the potato as I was willing to get! I was feeling highly motivated at this point, and jumped right into my research about Basil.

Basil, or Ocimum basilicum, was thought to have originated in India. It is cultivated throughout Asia and the Mediterranean, as well as California. Basil has been cultivated for around 5,000 years, and has spread all around the world (Collins, 1990).

We all are aware that basil basically makes any dish better (at least in my opinion), but I rapidly found out that this herb is advantageous for many other uses. Basil is beneficial for coughs and colds, calming of the stomach, leveling out blood sugar, aiding ear infections, reducing stress, etc (Encyclopedia of life: Basil). The of the many uses of basil seemed ever growing, and I was shocked. I was inspired to see all these application in action as soon as I got my hands on some basil. This thought quickly led me to another, wouldn’t all of these uses of basil seem much more rewarding if I grew my own basil?

And so began the great basil growing expedition.

Lets just say this expedition began and ended fairly quickly. I had the fortunate, yet bitter opportunity of learning the many do’s and don’ts of growing herbs. Apparently you have to actually harvest and prune the leaves at some point, and ever growing wild leafy basil plant, is an unhappy one. Also, basil doesn’t drink as much water as I do, it really doesn’t need too much. Lastly, when you do actually decide to harvest, there are places on the plant you should and should not take leaves from. Wow! I’ll tell you this much, growing basil was basically like taking care of a child, apparently not my thing.

After my trials and errors, time was lacking to grow a new baby from scratch. Oops, I mean basil! I decided to purchase a basil seedling from the store. I had much better luck caring for the plant the second time around.

Now that I had covered my basis of knowledge for the potato and basil, as well as even obtained one of them, it was time to seek out the rest of my ingredients.

As to quote Charles Dickens, It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Some ingredients appeared right in front of me when I least expected, and some I had to search for profusely.

Besides potatoes and basil, the third most prominent ingredient in my recipe was garlic. Garlic, or Allium sativum, originated in Central Asia, and has been cultivated for nearly 5000 years. The cultivation of garlic is very popular, making it quite easy to find locally, or semi-locally. Lucky for me, I came across Elements farm, not too far from town. Here, they had for me the gift of fresh garlic and potatoes.

Who can complain about killing two birds with one stone? Not me.

Did you know there are nuts in pesto? Okay, you probably did, but I was unaware. To say that I was annoyed that pine nuts were regularly used in pesto was an understatement. See, we can’t get these locally as far as I’m aware. Frankly, I found this ridiculous as I am pretty sure those are pine trees I am seeing out this window. I still don’t understand, but I think it’s probably best to move on and stop stressing about this fact. So here I am, thinking that my life has come to an end because pesto has an ingredient that I just cannot obtain. Once again, the internet saved my life. I quickly found out that pesto is fairly versatile. Arguably, I think basil substituted pesto, isn’t really even pesto, but I found recipes that used several alternative. The same deal was with pine nuts. I decided to go with a hazelnut pesto. Hazelnuts are extremely easy to find around Kamloops. I personally took the lazy girl way, and headed to facebook, inquiring about my need. Within minutes, I had several replies from local hazelnut growers. The following day I was a happy girl with a bag of hazelnuts from a local horticulture center.

The last plant-based ingredient was flour. I was dreading finding flour locally, as I was darn sure this would be my one ingredient that was from another end of the earth. Surprisingly this was my easiest ingredient to find. I had stumbled upon all-purpose flour which was made in Armstrong, right on the shelves at the grocery store down the street from my house.

My non-plant ingredients were fairly easy to source semi-locally. Sea salt from Vancouver Island. Eggs from a local farmer friend. French Gruyere cheese from the farmers market. Canadian canola oil.

As I stood in my kitchen, my ingredients strewn in front of me like the pieces to a puzzle, I finally grasped the feeling of local eating.

Everything was starting to come together.

All the local eating facts I had previously crammed into myself were buzzing through my head with every chop of basil, every cooked potato to come out of the boiling water, and every blend of the pesto. I was reminded that the typical item of food travels approximately 1,500 miles from farm to plate (Peterson, 2012), but I had managed to get the majority of my ingredients about 100 miles away, more or less. That was a fifteenth of the usual statistic. How could you not be in shock by that fact? Besides the carbon footprint issue of non-local eating, local food is believed to taste better than food grown from greater lengths away. It is also claimed that local food has a higher trust value than your typical non-local supermarket items (Peterson, 2012).

The basil, garlic, salt, french gruyere, hazelnuts, and oil, were blended together easily, into a smooth perfection of pesto. The potatoes were cooked and riced, kneaded with eggs, salt and flour to an elastic-like dough, pinched into little dumplings, and boiled until they lightly floated to the top. I delicately poured the pesto over the steaming gnocchi, watching the mixture liquify as it drizzled down each little dumpling.

A finished product never looked so pleasing and pure.

An Apple A Day

Pollan, M. 2002. The Botany of Desire. New York: The Random House Trade Paperbacks. p.3-58.

We are no unfamiliar friends to Michael Pollan. I was overjoyed to once again dabble in his words in  Botany of Desire, as he dedicates a hefty chapter to life of apples.

I was taken by surprise when I read this chapter. Don’t get me wrong, it was very intriguing and informational. Pollan is a natural storytelling. BUT, it was a little less… alluring? Seductive? I’m not quite sure of the word exactly. I just found myself highlighting less, feeling awed less. This chapter seemed less quotable than I expected from Pollan.

When we read the introduction to this novel, Pollan pitches the idea that plants seduce us, and perhaps control us. I found this notion lost throughout the first chapter. It seemed more like a history lesson through story time for me. Which is not a bad thing! I learned quite a bit, it was just far from what I was expecting.

Okay away with the negativity, Anisha! Get outta here!

loved hearing about Johnny Appleseed. He is a character we often hear of, but don’t quite know why we quote the name, or where it originated. It was very interesting hearing the history of this figure, it gave this chapter a lot of charm. Much of the writing was dedicated to his story, which took me by surprise.

If Pollan can do anything, it is describe, describe describe. His descriptions of the apple had my mouth watering from page to page, craving anything from a fresh slice of apple, to a sweet glass of apple cider.

Hey Pollan, I think you’re the seducer, not the plants!

Being a huge fan of Greek and Roman mythology, I adored when Pollan compared Johnny Appleseed to Dionysus. For me, it switched Johnny’s  aura from sweet, american charm, to mysterious and alluring as many Greek and Roman Gods and Goddesses are.

There was a number of points that Pollan mentions that were so alarming and absurd to think about. For one, learning of the themes associated with the apple in past history compared to present day. How the apple in previous times was linked mostly to alcohol, where as now, it is a major staple of health food. Another was the idea that domestication can lead to a very bad point, if overdone. We could perhaps lose the such vast diversity we once had and reach a point of no return, maybe even lose the species all together.

No! Don’t take away the apple!


“Sweetness is a desire that starts on the tongue with the sense of taste, but it doesn’t end there.” Pg 17


~ Anisha

You Are What You Eat; The Corn Life.

Pollan, M. 2006, The Omnivores Dilemma. NY. pg. 15 – 119, The Penguin Press, New York

Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, is a novel which showcases the history and current issues of four “meals.” The First part of this novel in which our class focussed on is dedicated to corn.

I thoroughly enjoyed the chapters on corn. They were jam-packed with information relayed in a story tellers style. Slightly more factual than Botony of Desire, Pollan does a great job in making every part interesting.

This novel brought to life the idea that corn is so very important in and abundant in life today. Pollan write that “there are some forty-five thousand items in the average American supermarket and more than a quarter of them now contain corn. This goes for non-food items as well-everything from toothpaste and cosmetics to the disposable diapers, trash bags, cleansers, charcoal briquettes, matches, and batteries, right down to the shine of the cover of the magazine that catches your eye by the checkout: corn.” pg 19. I had no idea of how corn can be used in an ample of ways, and that it is everywhere we look.

One of the interesting but not surprising facts Pollan provides is that fructose is the most valuable product that is refined from corn, food that i s. Apparently it accounts for 530 million bushels of corn every year. Damn.

Pollan continues to talk about the worlds nitrogen supply and how it is important for agriculture and soil health. He explains how more than half of the world’s usable supply of nitrogen is man made today. This can be good and bad. There are lots of uses for nitrogen today, especially in the agricultural industry, and an ample supply of nitrogen can mean more possibilities for agricultural advancements. This abundant nitrogen supply can be bad because overproduction of nitrogen messes with the balance of the environment and in turn can be detrimental to biodiversity.

Although the subject of corn leads to a vast amount of other subjects, Pollan focused a lot on cattle and their role that is intertwined with corn. He talks about how raising cattle for meat very inefficient. The amount of resources and feed that has to go into producing just one pound of meat is ridiculous. It reminded me of this documentary that is available on Netflix that focusses on this very issue, it is called Conspiracy. I highly recommend it.

Another topic that Pollan touches on that caught my attention is obesity in present day. He writes that it is found that “people presented with large portions will eat up to 30 percent more than they would otherwise.”pg 106. This could be do to the savvy food marketing that is ongoing in todays society. Pollan mentions the idea and start of super sizing-making larger quantities of food and drink available for cheaper than if bought in smaller increments. This forces people to think that splurging on the large amount may be more worth while, therefore consuming more than is needed just for the idea that they may have saved a penny. One quote I really liked was when Pollan said “our bodies are storing up reserves of fat against a famine that never comes.”pg 106

Pollan also talks about about the energy that comes from the food we consume, and when it comes to corn, are we using it efficiently? Apparently, eating corn directly is using all of the energy it has to offer. When we get the energy second hand from another animal, 90 percent of its energy is lost, going to things like bone, feathers, fur, etc. He says that “every step up the chain reduces the amount of food energy by a factor of ten.”pg 118. Pollen then goes on to make a final point that made a great impact on me; thats much food energy is lost during the making of something we might so often consume from a fast food chain today. So much so, that eating an item off the menu could feed so many more mouths than just mine. Isn’t that a true waste? Shouldn’t we be ashamed?

This novel emphasizes the idea that one single resource can be distributed in a countless amount of ways. Pollan says very bluntly, “corn has done more than any other species to help the food industry realize the dream of freeing food from nature’s limitations and seducing the omnivore into eating more of a single plant than anyone would ever have thought possible.”pg 91. The more time goes on, the more advanced food technology is available to our disposal, the more uses of corn we seem to find.

One thing is for sure; The past life of corn has been fascinating, miraculous, and even worrisome. The future sure as hell should be interesting.



“While the surgeon general is raising alarms over the epidemic of obesity, the presidents signing farm bills designed to keep the river of cheap corn flowing, guaranteeing that the cheapest calories in the supermarket will continue to the be unhealthiest.”pg 108.


Hunter-Gatherers VS Farmers

Diamond, J., 1999. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. W.W. Norton and Company, New York.

Let me begin by saying that I love Diamond’s chapter titles. He really pulls you in with his simplistic but intriguing headers. This is important when your novel is going to be jam packed with wordy paragraphs with fact after fact. At least he could draw me in one way or another!

Over the course of the few chapters I read this week, Diamond takes me on a journey to understanding the relationship between hunter-gatherers, farmers, and food production. From the beginning of this course, I always just said “Plants and People.” I never thought to differentiate even further. Go deeper. What different types of people used plants? When in history? Why did these people use their resources different than others? Diamond has the answers!


Diamond did a great job in differentiating hunter-gatherers and farmers, and explaining major differences in lifestyles, the problems each faced, what worked and what didn’t.

I liked the idea that hunter-gatherers are seen as just as productive as farmers in some ways. We often think of them as being pretty useless most of the time, prehistoric and old-fashioned. A waste of time. But Diamond brings up a good point when he mentions how farmers spend all day raising food, doing physical work, sometimes to not even get a great result. They are both equally as hard and pressing but in different ways.

Oh how odd it is to think in a different light.

Diamond’s explanation of radiocarbon dating was extremely detailed, hard to follow sometimes, but very thorough. A very important issue he brings up that I never thought to question was that the atmospheric ratio of carbon 14/carbon 12 is not a constant, but fluctuates, so often our calculations can be off. It was fascinating when he explains how this dilemma can be fixed through the reading of tree rings. Although it wasn’t my favourite part of this reading, he definitely made learning these facts truly interesting.


Diamond mentions how food production is neither a discover not an invention, but an “evolution as a by-product of decisions made without awareness of their consequences”pg 101. He says, “we must consider food production and hunting-gathering as alternative strategies competing with each other.”pg 105. So here, slowly the scale began to tip, and farming with took up the majority of food production.

What were the factors that made such a change in food production?

One of the biggest factors that I read about was technology(duh)! Whether it be basket weaving, carving knives, to modern day mills and assembly lines. Technology over time has made food production the easiest options for us to survive.

Diamond surfaced so many questions stirring around in my head. I hope to delve into these matters further, and continue to question the things that surround me.

Keep curious, folks!

“Did a rise in human population density force people to turn to food production, or did food production permit a rise in human population density?”pg 107


Who’s In Charge? Plants or People?

Pollan, M., 2001. The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World. Random House, New York.

Diamond, J., 1999. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. W.W. Norton and Company, New York.

Both Botany of Desire, and Guns, Germs, and Steel, are informative books that talk about plants and their interactions with humans. Botany of Desire emphasizes the idea of the plants immense influence on animals, rather than the other way around. Guns, Germs, and Steel uses more of a historical approach in order to convey our relationship with plants over time.

Diamond’s writing style was very informative, yet bland during some points. I found myself really wanting to engage in his ideas, but struggled with his words. Although his chapter took me some time to read due to our differences in literacy preferences, I appreciate his book and all the facts it had to offer. Just as in Triumph of Seeds, I was relived to see some figures and tables in Diamond’s novel.

Diamond delves on the idea of domestication and how ancient species became domesticated and turned into crops. He talks about the reasons why humans chose to domesticate species, and what influenced those decisions such as sweetness, size, fleshiness, fibre length, etc.

Guns, Germs, and Steel explains how many of the crops we have today are due to mutant seeds. Much of the time, wild plants produce fruit and vegetables that are not big enough for us, not sweet enough, not soft enough. But, once in a blue moon a mutant seed may deliver the perfect tasting plant that we happened to stumble upon and cherish the seeds. This would be the first step to domestication. I thought this was very interesting because I never realized how many wild plants were dangerous to us, such as the almond.

Diamond also mentions how humans have spent a lifetime to perfect agriculture and crop growth. It is now a science. He says how universities have departments devoted to the genetics of crops such as apples and grapes, and even wine. Send me there, please!

I found Pollan’s writing very fluent and captivating. His words were mesmerizing and I was thoroughly impressed with his ability to convey his idea so beautifully. He used so many great examples to get his ideas across, which is very helpful to a new botanist. I found myself easily explaining his introduction chapter to my peers(who were very impressed by my new found knowledge). I am very excited to read more of Botany of Desire, as Pollan takes us on a journey using social history, natural history, science, journalism, biography, mythology, philosophy, memoir.

Pollen’s main topic in his introduction is the notion, who is in charge? Plants or People? He has this amazing idea that plants are very conscious in their decisions to make us animals want to pick them and plant them. Just as humans, plants are interested in making copies of itself and allowing its species to be abundant during future generations. I have never thought of it in this light; I was quite blown away by the idea. I recently realized how many aspects of our lives that plants rule, but now thinking that maybe it is because they are the driving force, not us? It was interesting but almost eerie when Pollan said that plants are “the species that have spent the last ten thousand or so years figuring out how best to feed, heal, clothe, intoxicate, and otherwise delight us have made themselves some of nature’s greatest success stories” BOD pg xvi.

Pollan also touches on the topic of domestication of species. We humans often find such beauty and mystery in wild species, yet we forget to marvel at the impressive domesticated species who have somehow managed to lure us into coevolving with them and allowed them to be abundantly populated. Pollan has a great example of this when he says, “the wolf is somehow more impressive to us than the dog” BOD pg xvi. This is so true! People! Get it together!

Another fact I found intriguing was when Pollan mentioned how the domestication of plant species over history can tell us about the people living at that time. The values they cherished, what they desired. He puts it perfectly when he says, “it has something to tell us about that age’s idea of beauty.”BOD pg xvii.

Botany of Desire sparked another notion that humans are so quick to take credit for most complex species. We think we are superior due to our ability to communicate, make tools and our sense of consciousness. Plants are extremely advanced based on their own standards. Pollan explains it as “plants are so unlike people that it’s very difficult for us to appreciate fully their complexity and sophistication”BOD pg xix.

Both Botany of Desire, and Guns, Germs, and Steel were intriguing and eye opening. I greatly look forward to reading more of both novels, and immersing myself in the world of plants and animals, and how we coexist on this planet that we call home.

“For a great many species today “fitness” means the ability to get along in a world in which humankind has become the most powerful evolutionary force”

-Botany of Desire, Page xxii

-Anisha Parekh

Seeds Nourish. Seeds Unite. Seeds Endure. Seeds Defend. Seeds Travel.

Hanson, T. 2015. The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses & Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History. Basic Books, New York, NY.

In The Triumph of Seeds, Thor Hanson takes readers on a  journey of the history of seeds, as he stresses their importance in the past, present, and future. He combines passages of historical references as well as personal experiences in order to relay the central message of his novel; seeds are life.

Thor is definitely a skilled writer and story teller. This is clear from the get go, as he begins the introduction of the novel with memories of his son and smoothly makes a connection to his story of seeds. I found it pleasing how he could spend the span of a chapter(roughly 15 pages) narrating the germination process of a seed so eloquently. He also used beautiful imagery that forced me to look at seeds in a new light.  A great example of Thor’s imaginative words are; “a dark stem arched downward into the soil, and above it two seed leaves had begun to unfurl. They looked impossibly green and tender, a rich meal for the pale shoot just visible between them.”pg 38. Another example that i thoroughly enjoyed was, “There the spores practically glowed, tucked into speckled golden pouches at the base of each leaf.”pg 136. Just wow.

Throughout the novel, Thor does a fantastic job of explaining concepts through comparisons. This is important to me, because as a fairly new botanist dabbler, I sometimes struggle with grasping simple concepts. He explains the basics of a seed by writing, “a seed contains three basic elements: the embryo of a plant (the baby), a seed coat (the box), and some kind of nutritive tissue (the lunch). ”pg 46. He later continues to expand on this idea when he says, “a seed may be a baby in a box with its lunch, but plants have come up with countless ways to play out those roles. It’s like a symphony orchestra.”pg 57.

I really appreciated the inclusion of images and diagrams throughout the novel. It gave my eyes and mind a quick rest, and allowed me to really visualize some of the key concepts that Thor attempts to explain. Even if it was as simple as a drawing of a split avocado seed, it made me push my thought process to another level.

This novel got me thinking of how crucial seeds are to life, and how silently abundant they are. I came to the abrupt realization that seeds are everywhere. They are in every meal we eat, the clothes we wear, the medicine we use, even most products we buy are somehow linked to seeds. Thor makes a good point when he mentions how humans are the most accomplished animal in seed use. He puts it quite perfectly when he says that “they transcend that imaginary boundary we erect between the natural world and the human world, appearing so regularly in our daily lives, in so many forms, that we hardly recognize how utterly dependent we are upon them.” pg 17.

Although the majority of the human population tends to ignore seeds, somebody clearly acknowledged their importance, as Thor made an excellent point that “A forest, after all, is named for its trees and not for the monkeys or birds that leap and flutter within it. And everyone knows to call the famed Serengeti a grassland—not a zebra-land with grass.”pg 26. So, humanity does have some hope.

This novel is a phenomenal introduction to the vast world of seeds. If you weren’t interested in them before, Thor will definitely beckon you closer with one simple sentence; “what lies inside those neat packages just waiting for the spark to build a new plant?”pg 41.

“Think of the fierce energy concentrated in an acorn! You bury it in the ground, and it explodes into a giant oak! Bury a sheep, and nothing happens but decay.
—George Bernard Shaw,
The Vegetarian Diet According to Shaw (1918)”pg22

– Anisha

Food For Thought

MacKinnon, J.B., Smith, Alisa. 2007. The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating. Pg 1-149.

At first glance at this book, my eyes did an automatic roll as I foreshadowed much boredom from a typical university class read. Although I immediately proved myself wrong as I began to read this fascinating journal of Alisa and James, and their journey through a year of local eating.

Both journalists successfully document their trials and triumphs of their year long challenge, as well as adding several statistics and historical data in an interesting and possessing manner. I found this book easy to read from the first page, as though I was reading a story instead of absorbing all of this important information that Alisa and James sneakily fit in-between the lines.

The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating touches on several important topics revolving around community culture, agriculture, the economy of the food industry, etc. While reading, I found myself resurfacing thoughts from deep inside my mind about health, local eating and the challenges it possesses, the state that our natural earth is in, and so many more dire topics that we seem to not think about quite enough these days.

I found it quite interesting and refreshing that James mentioned the fact that local eating is indeed expensive. It is unfortunate that if one wants to do do good for their body and reduce mass market food with chemicals, eat organic and locally, as well as help the local business, it is sometimes not feasible due to the price.

This book made me aware of how far food can travel. It is something we never give a second thought to, but when you hear the numbers, it is rather alarming. Alisa and James find out that the “typical distance from farm to plate at more like 2,500 miles… in other words, worlds apart.” pg 30. It is even more alarming to hear that is number is increasing.

Alisa mentions how eating locally means sometimes you eat a lot more of one type of food, maybe a lot of potatoes or apples, depending on your area. This is a challenge that I would not have though of before starting the 100-Mile Diet. I am so used to eating whatever I feel like at that moment. Picking up any ingredient from the Superstore down my street. Do I feel like Mexican? No problem, Señor Froggy is five minutes away. We are so used to having a diverse palette at our disposal, and local eating would not allow for such a degree of range in meal choice.

Although local eating consists of more frequent use a smaller range of ingredients, you find yourself immersing yourself in the world of diversity for these ingredients. James and Alisa come to a realization that there is a seemingly countless number of variations in one ingredient, for example, all the different types of tomatoes. I found this very enlightening and felt a beckoning call for a challenge. It made me want to experience more variations of the ingredients I use, and perhaps become an expert on one. Perhaps honey? Hot peppers? Tomatoes? Wine is a given.

This book also made me ponder the meaning of the word homemade. I often pride myself for my above-average( I like to think, anyways) cooking and baking skills. I boast about my delicacies being homemade, and think about how in this day and age, this is impressive. So many people are buying their lunches at work and school, ordering dinner, and shopping in the frozen isle. It has become a notable skill if you can make a homemade meal. Throughout the book, Alisa and James talk about skills such as canning your own food, hunting your own meat. Aren’t these the real impressive skills? Sure makes cooking a homemade quinoa salad sound easy.

As I was reading, I came to the realization that food and memories are so closely linked together. Food truly creates memories. James mentions how his relationship with Alisa basically blossomed over a meal of pizza. Food brings people together. When you have more contact from the very beggining with the ingredients that make up your dinner plate, you are creating memories there too. You are meeting the people who grow your food, making life long connections. You are spending quality time with your loved ones, picking out the perfect ingredients in the field or at the local market. So as I mentioned earlier, yes, you may be eating a less diverse variety of foods when opting a local diet, but you are gaining memories and experiences. You are choosing to be a little more connected in a world where most people have a screen in front of their face, waiting for their frozen meal to heat up in the microwave. Alisa and James’ friend Ruben put it in perfect words when he said, “if grocery shopping were always like this, it wouldn’t be a chore.” pg 60.

I noticed that James makes a point to mention that even if you are eating locally, you may still not be fully aware of what your ingredients are going through. Perhaps if you buy from a market, you still do not have a true connection with your ingredients. Someone else is putting love and care into the cultivation of your food. The history of your ingredients has vanished.

Although many people would claim that the history of their ingredients is important, this notion seems to vanish when it comes to meat. As a vegetarian, this irks me. James puts it simply as,”the anonymity is in part a comfort: plastic wrapped ground beef does little to remind you of the carcass of a cow.” pg 48. I found this statement very truthful. When it comes to the meat people eat, people tend to be blind. How can you be so concerned about the pesticides in your veggies, yet eat KFC for lunch, or go buy the cheapest cut of meat at the grocery store without second thought? As James says,”packaged and processed foods share few of their secrets.” pg 48.

As well as all the previous topics i mentioned that this book covers, Alisa and James also touch on some other very important subjects that I found interesting. How meat production uses an abundance of resources just to produce one pound of meat. Statistics on illnesses related to food, how much food is available to us and how much we waste. Where to the draw the line when eating locally. Is it really local if the livestock is feeding on non-local feed? Veggies grown in manure from local cows that ate non-local feed? I could literally go on forever on the eye opening topics and concepts that this book pulls together.

So far, this book is great. I am learning so much, as well as rethinking the way I live my life.

~”It’s no secret that we, as a society, have been losing the traceability not only of our food, but every aspect of our lives.” pg 55.~