The Bonds of our Diet

Smith, Alisa and MacKinnon James B.  2007.  The 100 Mile Diet.  Vintage Canada, Toronto, Ontario.

Living on an animal farm is a pretty mixed bag; on one hand, it’s loud, busy, and cluttered with very little time for me to actually visit with my parents.  Conversely, I live in a much less urbanized environment where I can take my morning jogs through nearby grasslands.  I do get to see many more native species out here, and the scenery is a whole lot nicer than it is in town.  Another such advantage became pretty obvious to me once we were assigned the task of making a meal from as locally-sourced ingredients as you could manage.

When I signed up for the meal I ended up just taking a desert because the rest of the slots were taken.  I recalled that we had strawberries frozen from a Salmon Arm farm at home so I essentially arbitrarily chose strawberry shortcake.  Knowing the desert needs a sweetener, I knew I could just walk down to the apiary in Pritchard, Hill-Top Honey, to grab what I would need.  Eggs?  No problem, I live on a chicken farm after all, and that’s about as local as you can get it.  I did hear from several people, however, that sourcing things locally was proving to be challenging.

When I first started the project, I wasn’t terribly pleased with the time it was going to take up, accompanied with my classes and teaching.  However, once I explained it to my parents, they were all in to help me out.  It was refreshing; even though I initially viewed the project as nothing but a liability on my academics, the involvement my parents had with it made the endeavour fairly enjoyable (even if I should’ve been writing a lab report instead).

My brief experience was much different than that outlined in the 100-Mile Diet.  In this story, Alisa and James explain the different individuals they had met, and their experiences in attempting to source their diet from the immediately surrounding areas.  In their struggles, they outline some of the tension between each other, but more importantly, they both take the time to write about their experiences with each farmer or other food supplier.  Each experience is a fairly unique one; and James and Alisa constantly highlight how challenging but rewarding it has been.  In contrast to them, however, most of my ingredients were sourced directly from my community with very little thought.  “I know that farmer down the road, he probably has some left” was the thought process behind my entire preparation.  Of course, this wouldn’t fly if I had to source my entire diet locally, but I really felt I had it easy.

One unique aspect of this experience that I seem to have shared with James and Alisa was established relationships.  Between my academics and the commute from the city back to the farm; I’m not available at home much, but when I am I try to spend time with my parents.  Similarly, my father works full time and my mother has a healthy amount of animals to tend to.  In short, we live different lives and sometimes it’s quite challenging to get the time to sit down and just catch up.  When I mentioned this project to my parents, my mother in particular was very excited to help me out.  After all, she wasn’t helping me understand the electron movement in the Photosystem II or explaining to me why my lab project didn’t work; she was helping me with eating locally, relying on local farmers.  This was her environment, and it definitely wasn’t mine.

I’ve always understood why locally sourcing meals is important.  It’s a common occurrence for my family to attend the farmer’s markets over spring/summer, and I understand that supporting the surrounding communities as opposed to large corporations (who, quite frankly, don’t need our support).  It’s because I’ve been exposed to these ethics for so long that I didn’t view the project as beneficial.  After making the meal and reflecting on it, however, I can comfortably say I am delighted that I got some extra time to spend with my parents, and even get a better understanding why they are farmers.



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