One-hundred-mile diet-wise, I grew up doing that in Nova Scotia. That’s the way we lived. When I started doing it in Edmonton, it created a greater sense of community with the surrounding area.
The 100-mile diet simply means eating locally: if it's grown or raised more than 100 miles (160 kilometres) from where you live, you don't eat it. I grew up with the diet in Nova Scotia. That's the way we lived. We had a garden that produced our vegetables for the whole year. My father would go in with some farmers on beef and pork and they would butcher it and split it up. That’s just the way we did things. We didn't really travel that far or go that far away from home in general, for food. That's pretty much how we grew up. And of course life has changed a lot.
When I started doing it Edmonton, it created a greater sense of community with the surrounding area. I don't think up until then I had much connection to the surrounding community.
One of the benefits of eating local is that you get to know the people that are providing you with your food. And that just creates a totally different dynamic. Food is a very social thing. If you get to know the people who are providing your food choices then you actually end up conversing with food providers much more readily. You’re as concerned about them as they are concerned with you. From a local point of view it creates a lot more loyalty to the local market and local economy.
One of the obvious benefits is flavour. That’s the first thing you'd notice. My wife is doing a partial raw-food diet and she's using this recipe that calls for one clove of garlic and she has to cut the garlic in half because it's just so strong. It's just that much better.
Ivor MacKay is a Red Seal chef turned IT guy. He's from Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley and settled in Edmonton after stints as a chef in the UK and the U.S. The things he missed most while on the 100-mile diet in Edmonton were oil, ginger, and vinegar. He blogged about the experience for the CBC.
He also hosts the group on Facebook called Traditional Skills Edmonton.