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Deconstructing Dinner: Reconstructing Our Food System
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January 11, 2007

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100-Mile Diet When the average North American sits down to eat, each ingredient has typically travelled at least 1,500 miles. On the first day of spring, 2005, Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon chose to confront this unsettling statistic with a simple experiment. For one year, they would buy or gather their food and drink from within 100 miles of their apartment in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Since then, James and Alisa have gotten up-close-and-personal with issues ranging from the family-farm crisis to the environmental value of organic pears shipped across the globe. They've reconsidered vegetarianism and sunk their hands into community gardening.

Their 100-Mile Diet struck a deeper chord than anyone could have predicted. Within weeks, reprints of their blog at had appeared on sites across the internet. Then came the media, from BBC Worldwide to Utne magazine. Dozens of individuals and grassroots groups have since launched their own 100-Mile Diet adventures.

In October 2006, Deconstructing Dinner recorded exclusive sessions of the Bridging Borders Toward Food Security Conference held in Vancouver. The conference was organized by the California-based Community Food Security Coalition and Food Secure Canada. Both James and Alisa shared their thoughts about their 100-Mile experience to an audience of Food Security practitioners. This broadcast features their presentation.

Additional clips for this broadcast were compiled in September 2006 at the Sorrento Gathering of the BC Food Systems Network.


Alisa Smith - 100-Mile Diet Society (Vancouver, BC) - is a freelance writer based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her articles have been printed in U.S. and Canadian publications from Reader's Digest to Utne. The books Liberalized (New Star, 2005) and Way Out There (Greystone, 2006) also feature her work. Smith has a Master's degree in history and has taught magazine writing. She has been a member of the Cypress Community Garden for five years, and hopes someday to successfully grow an eggplant.

James (J.B.) MacKinnon - 100-Mile Diet Society (Vancouver, BC) - is the author of Dead Man in Paradise (Douglas & McIntyre), which won the 2006 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-fiction. His work as a journalist has earned two national magazine awards, and he is a senior contributing editor to Explore Magazine. A past editor of Adbusters, MacKinnon speaks regularly on writing and the politics of consumerism. After a year on the 100-Mile Diet, he will never again eat store-bought sauerkraut.

Brent Warner - Industry Specialist, Agritourism/Direct Marketing, British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture & Lands (Victoria, BC) - Brent is a horticulturalist who has worked with the Ministry since 1980. Brent is the Secretary of the North American Farmers' Direct Marketing Association. He authored "Marketing on the Edge" - a guide for farmers/producers to assist in diversification and marketing of their products directly to the public.

Heather Pritchard - Executive Director, FarmFolk/CityFolk (Vancouver, BC) - An organic farmer for 21 years and a member of the Glorious Organics Cooperative. Sits on the Vancouver Food Policy Council, the GVRD Agricultural Advisory Committee, Colony Parks Association and BC Food Systems Network. FFCF's mission is: farm and city working together to cultivate a local, sustainable food system. FFCF has recently engaged into a collaborative endeavour to create CFCA (Collective Farm Community Alliance); created to support the creation and sustaining of collectively owned farms.

Kathleen Gibson - Principal, GBH Consulting Group Ltd (Victoria, BC) - a food systems specialist and policy analyst. Kathleen also works as a Help Desk Coordinator for the Meat Industry Enhancement Strategy of the BCFPA (BC Food Processors Association). (Kathleen was unable to make this recorded session of the conference, and Brent Warner acted as the voice for her presentation!)

Musical Selection (name/title/album/label)
Theme/Soundclip - Adham Shaikh, Infusion, Fusion, Sonic Turtle (CDN)

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Transcript for this broadcast available through Global Public Media

Articles/Documents/Studies Additional Audio

James MacKinnon

  1. "The 100-Mile Diet needs little explanation as it doesn't need much defence". Why? LISTEN
Alisa Smith
  1. Alisa comments on the memories of meals created by eating locally LISTEN
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