And I Would Eat 100 Miles, and I Would Eat 100 More…

Spent the morning at our local taking part in a 100-mile brunch hosted by the MPP for the riding, Peggy Nash. I’m still not sure why Ms. Nash decided to put together such an event (we’ve got a Provincial election coming up, not a Federal one), but as the $25 price went to FoodShare, and as it was a 5-minute walk from home, we figured why not.

The event went off okay, but it wasn’t perfect. Food-wise, it appears that the primary food produced within a 100-mile radius is pork. Pretty much every part of the pig was accounted for, to the detriment of the vegetarians in the room. Vegans were completely SOL unless they stuck to the fruit plate. I loaded up on salad, cheese panini and a slice of Spanish potato omelet. While all the food was good, and was created by area chefs, the overall menu lacked cohesiveness. It felt like a potluck where no one consulted anyone else on what they were bringing.

Technical issues kept the coffee lukewarm for the first while and when I mentioned aloud that there was cream and milk but no sugar, some woman wagged a finger at me. “Sugar is not grown within 100 miles.” She came really close to wearing a cup of non-local coffee.

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100 Miles to Nowhere

If you follow food politics at all, you’re probably aware of the theory that “local is the new organic”. Where we once fought to have food that was pesticide-free, over the past couple of years, what with the attention towards global warming, people have clued in that maybe cutting down on the distance their food travels would be a good thing, too.

The pinnacle of this philosophy would have to be the 100-mile diet in which people make every effort to source all of their food from within a one hundred mile radius. This is easier said than done, particularly when you live somewhere like Toronto. Even if we assume people are willing to give up all coffee, tea, chocolate and citrus, there’s also things like spices to be considered. Imagine living life with absolutely no salt and pepper. Or flour.

Despite the inconvenience and overall lack of logic, the 100-mile diet seems to have its proponents and the San Francisco Gate recently gave coverage to three families trying to stick to the diet. However, the food writer for the East Bay Express made his opinion resoundingly clear…

Unless you make decisions for an entity like Chez Panisse, whose mission involves influencing fellow businesses to reduce impacts, isn’t a complex scheme of artificial limitations on your daily life the kind of self-indulgent game that elites love to play? Isn’t it a bit like masturbation? As the father of the Chron staffer is quoted as saying: “This challenge sounds like something for people with too much spare time.”

I want to focus on the comment about elites within this quote. I attend a variety of conferences, symposia and gathering for the food industry and the elite issue comes up again and again. So much so that it’s embarrassing.

Why is it embarrassing? Because it’s true.

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