Food & Fitness

The 100-Mile Diet

Last chance to enter to win my Smarty had a Party giveaway for party supplies!

I’ve been really intrigued by the 100-Mile Diet for several years now. Something holds me back, however, every time I intend to try it out. Travelling is a major issue; if I’m out of the province during a 100-Mile Diet challenge, I’d have to do all kinds of extra research to determine what foods are local. Another problem is seasonal. Not a lot grows around Winnipeg that I would be able to eat year-round. We have berries and tons of root vegetables in the summer and autumn, but what happens in the winter when all I’d be able to really rely on would be canned, dried, or frozen goods? The 100-Mile Diet, to me, is harder to figure out than my Raw Food Challenge or my Vegan Challenge.

So this time, instead of doing a 30-day challenge of eating everything local, I want to simply try to eat more local foods. That’s it. No extreme challenge. No restrictions. Just a conscious awareness of trying to learn where my food is coming from. And I’m not putting a time limit on it. This is something I want to carry on practicing for life.

I managed to find a Manitoba-specific website for eating local, which makes me think that there is likely a similar kind of local eating website or local food stores directory for your area, too, wherever you are in the world. Just type “100-mile diet” plus the name of your city into our dear friend Google and see what pops up – you might be surprised!

The Internet isn’t the only place you can go, however. Start hanging around markets and smaller grocers and you might be able to find some gold mines of local foods. You can also ask around and find out from other people where they get their food. They might actually know some farmers personally, which is always a bonus.

These are some of the foods that I have discovered that are made with local ingredients or else are produced locally:

– Cold-pressed organic sunflower seed oil from The Forks;

– Whole wheat perogies from Local Meats & Frozen Treats (there are also local perogies at The Forks, but I don’t know if there are any that are whole wheat);

– Elk stir fry meat, elk burgers, and ground bison from Local Meats & Frozen Treats (there’s also grass-fed beef from Humboldt’s Legacy, though I have yet to try it);

– Free-range eggs from Deluca’s (I still have to look into the company to ensure that the chickens really do have access to the outdoors and are humanely-raised, rather than just being labelled “free-range” because there is a tiny doorway which the chickens can’t even get to because there are too many of them packed into one area. Too many farmers do that and then still slap on the “free-range” label. It’s disgusting. I’m really hoping this company is the humane kind.*);

– Popcorn kernels and rice from Local Meats & Frozen Treats;

– Pickerel fillets and other fish from the Gimli Fish Market;

– Raw cheese from The Forks;

– Baked goods from Tall Grass Prairie and Stella’s Bakery;

– A variety of fruits and vegetables from the St. Norbert Farmers’ Market;

…and more. For those who drink cow milk, there is even a local producer of organic milk which can be bought at Food Fare.

For those readers who do not live in Winnipeg or the surrounding area, the above list might not sound very helpful. But my point is that you can find a wide variety of foods once you start looking. And you can build good relationships with the owners of these small businesses, too. The owner of Frozen Meats & Local Treats seems to really enjoy talking to the boyfriend and I when we take the trip down to his store; it’s a pleasure to talk to other people who are concerned about sustainable farming.

To me, the 100-Mile Diet isn’t really about 100 miles. If I can find a farmer that owns a sustainable practice and treats his or her products humanely, and they live within several hundred miles, then I would gladly purchase their food over a farmer who lives within 70 miles of me and who runs an operation that is closer to the style of a factory farm. Buying local 100% of the time isn’t necessary or realistic, either, but being more aware of your options can be of great benefit when it comes to choosing how far you want your food to travel (and no, there is no way I’m giving up bananas just because they don’t grow here :)).

If you’re interested in learning more about sustainable farming, I highly recommend you read The Compassionate Carnivore by Catherine Friend (you can read my book review of it by clicking here) and that you watch the film Food, Inc (you can read my brief review of the documentary by clicking here). Both of these are excellent resources that explain the concept of sustainable farming in a way that is easy to understand and relate to.

Do you try to eat local? Have you ever tried a 100-Mile Diet? Do you have any idea where your food comes from? Share in the comments below!

*Update: I just looked at the package of Free Run Vita Eggs from Deluca’s, and it says on the carton that the hens eat a vegetarian feed ration that “includes corn, wheat, oats, sunflower seeds and dried herbs. Our hens are raised without antibiotics in a free-run system that allows ample nesting space and free access to scratch, dustbathing, roost and perch areas. The feed does not contain any animal products.” Sounds like it’s my kind of eggs! I’m still going to look into the company further, but it’s looking promising.


  1. South Beach Steve

    I try to eat local, but like you, some of that depends on the food that is available locally. If there is a good local alternative, I will choose that over the commercial stuff. I have to admit though, price plays a role in this. For example, I buy local eggs. Thankfully I am a member of a co-op as well. If not, those eggs would have been $4.50 a dozen this summer. As much as I want to buy local, I cannot justify 3-4 times the cost to do so. Again, being a member of the co-op saved me on this one, but it is one example of where cost would have prevented me from buying local.

    1. Sagan Morrow

      Yes, price definitely plays a role. Hence why I don’t buy many foods organic. The eggs that I buy are $3.50/dozen, so it’s not TOO bad, but some other items are outrageously expensive. We have to pick and choose if we want to stay within a budget.

  2. Mary Anne in Kentucky

    I’ve no intention of trying a 100-mile diet. I buy as much as I can locally (and of course the venison in my freezer is extremely local: from my own land), but I don’t want to restrict myself in that way. (Made a vow, for real, years ago: no food restrictions but allergic ones!)

    The organic eggs at my coop (which is 50 miles away) are $4.50/dz which is more than twice the cost of grocery store ones. I haven’t bought many. As for “grass-fed” beef, around here “corn-finished” doesn’t mean “feedlot finished”, it means corn grown on the farm added to the diet of cattle still on pasture. Yum.

    My local farm produce stand (which is farther from me than the farm itself which is only seven miles away) buys produce both locally and from away besides what they grow themselves. I could, for instance, buy the fresh corn they sell from the farm where it’s grown, but that would be twenty extra miles of driving to get to it, so I don’t. They (like my coop, and unlike the grocery) label everything with its origin.

    1. Sagan Morrow

      That is SO COOL that you have venison straight from your own land. I bet it’s amazing. And I expect that if you made food restrictions it wouldn’t leave much at all for your allergies! 🙂

      I like that the produce stand labels everything with its origin. That’s very useful for making sustainable choices.

  3. Cammy@TippyToeDiet

    This definitely falls into “okay-but-could-probably-do-better” category for me. I try to shop local and “almost local”, which I define as within 200 miles, but as you and Steve have pointed out, price does factor into it. The good news is that the combination of local markets and social media feeds like twitter or facebook can work together to provide opportunities for savings.

  4. Dr. J

    Although the concept of the “100 mile diet” is admirable, I think I read somewhere that economically and in terms of actual good that it does, it is not valid. The environmental costs within 100 miles can be greater than when items are moves from 1000 miles away. I may be mistaken, but that is what I remember. I do however support local businesses and farms, etc, because it feels like the right thing to do.

    1. Sagan Morrow

      Really? Hmm. I’d be interested in learning more about that. Do you think the argument would be something about the fact that if they’re shipped from far away there would be a larger amount being moved? I would think that the amount of packaging and preservatives required would counteract that…

  5. Andrea@WellnessNotes

    Yes, I do try to eat locally as much as possible. We belong to a CSA, and we shop at local farmers’ markets, where we buy directly from local farmers we know. There are also several farm stands from which we buy. Plus, we buy eggs from friends who raise chickens in their huge “backyard.” We are also lucky that in California the growing season is much longer and there some fresh, local produce available almost year round. However, I know that by far not everything I buy is local. And I could do a better job and focus more on local food. And that’s exactly what I will do! Great post and great reminder!

  6. the Bag Lady

    Interesting topic, Sagan.

    As you well know, we (hubby & I) eat a lot of locally-grown stuff….. most of it grown right here on the farm! I do a lot of canning, freezing and pickling, and that helps carry us through the winter.

    I think it’s admirable that people are trying harder to support local businesses and farmers, and I see nothing wrong with the 100 mile diet. (warning, here she goes again!) Back in the “old days” in the more northerly locations, people ate a lot of root vegetables in the winter because those veggies keep well. Before electricity, they preserved a lot of their meat by canning or smoking it; they would pick local berries and can them or make jam; and they grew veggies that could also be preserved in some way. We as a society have gotten away from doing that sort of thing for several reasons – not least of all that it is a lot of work. But it’s rewarding, if you like doing that kind of thing.
    Okay, I’ll stop now before I start telling you about the stories I’ve heard from old-timers around these parts who used to keep frozen moose carcasses on the roof in the winter and hack off a roast when it was time to cook supper…….

    1. Sagan Morrow

      The image of hacking off a roast from a frozen moose carcass is fantastic. Hehe. I guess a major problem with doing the 100 mile thing is that there are so many temptations (berries year round at the store! Bananas! Imported powdered peanut butter from the States! Oh goodness my carbon footprint is big…). And there’s certainly a lot of preparation required to do it. Not quite as much preparation required in the summer/autumn around here, of course… and nutritionally speaking, the 100 mile diet is certainly healthy! If our ancestors did it and were strong and healthy, then there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to either.

      By the way, the boyfriend and I are planning on roadtripping to B.C. next May. I’ve decided we need to stop by your place on our way back to Winnipeg 😀

  7. sophia

    I just don’t like the idea of this being a “diet”. It just puts too much restriction, and unnecessary self-induced stress. It’s a noble idea, and a great attempt to be more sustainable, but to be completely strict on this 100-mile thing…it just seems to me to be potentially harmful to my own personal peace too. It’s great to try to eat local as much as possible, but silly to be too restricted by it. So, I commend you for not going ALL the way. I hope you have a fun time with this! 🙂

    1. Sagan Morrow

      I absolutely agree that putting too much restriction and stress does no good. But I think it really depends on your definition of “diet”. I tend to think of a “diet” as “a way of eating”. How we interpret that can make a big impact on how we perceive various lifestyles.

      Personal peace is one of THE most important things in the world – we don’t want to put it in harm’s way at all!

  8. clare

    hi sagan, great article. i think the term “local” is really relative to, well, your location! and i agree that trying to rely only on canned vegetables and fruits in the LONG northern winter months would stink. i like the idea and the principle behind the “100 mile diet” as you laid out…just being as responsible and sustainable with food and other choices as fits into a persons life.

    i also understand sophia’s comment above and am sensitive to the word “diet” as well. so fitting into my life, the “100 mile diet” would have to be mindfully non-restrictive for disordered eating issue purposes.

  9. The Candid RD

    I think you are exactly right about this challenge; you can succeed with it just by becoming more aware of where your food is from. It’s crazy what I’ve learned in the past couple years about how many foods have been harvest and/or processed thousands of miles away from me. It’s so crazy when you really think about it, and it’s so important to start providing money for the local economy, and choosing foods which didn’t travel for days to get onto your plate.
    I’m intrigued by your list above and I really want to find some whole wheat perogies!! I had no idea there was even such a thing and I’m wondering if they sell something similar around here. I hope so!! Even though I don’t eat wheat, I would love to try them.

    1. Sagan Morrow

      Awareness is the key! I’m looking forward to trying the perogies; I tend to put things in my freezer and then forget they’re in there, heh.

      And yes: promoting the local economy is important. But even just KNOWING where our food comes from is a great start.

  10. Diane Fit to the Finish

    It’s pretty easy to eat local veggies and fruits during the summer around here, but much more challenging during other times. For us, we visit the Farmer’s Market when it’s in season and I do try and avoid any foods made in China. Does that count?! It’s an issue of cost for us with a large family too.

    1. Sagan Morrow

      I bet! Cost is often an issue when I’m just shopping for myself, so I can imagine how big of a factor it would be with a family like yours 🙂

      I think that being aware of where the food is coming from and just doing what we can to eat from farmers’ markets and trying to reduce how much we eat of exported foods is a great contribution to the local eating cause.

  11. Emergefit

    Just drove from Sacramento to my home in San Diego along I-5. 80% of America’s produce comes from that region. This is prime tomato picking season. I know this because one out of every 10 vehicle on the road was a open-top double tractor-trailer rig pulling mounds of identical looking, pink, waxy tomatoes. I saw this seen for nearly 8 hours. Along the way I passed a ranch with 375,000 head of cattle.

    All I could think about driving home and seeing this was getting to my avocado and citrus trees — to my garden. Most of the country will never go 100 mile, or back yard for that matter. I feel so lucky — I only wish I could keep elk.

    1. Sagan Morrow

      Mmmm elk. So very delicious.

      It’s hard to conceive of a herd of 375,000. Must have been a really nice drive with all of that fresh produce, too. Although I guess it’s hard to compare it when you have your own garden of avocado and citrus trees 🙂

  12. JavaChick

    I watched a series on food network following a group of people doing a 100 mile diet challenge. I think they were in BC somewhere, which I think made it a bit easier because their growing climate allows for a wider variety of things to be grown locally. But even for them it was a challenge.

    I don’t see myself ever doing the 100 mile diet. For one thing, I love my coffee and while you can get locally roasted beans, coffee certainly doesn’t grow anywhere around here. I do like the idea of trying to eat local as much as possible. I could do better at this though. The issue for me is that I don’t want to have to drive all over the place to hunt down the local goods. But I do try to keep my eyes open for local options.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *