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Ask G: What is the 100-mile diet?

The answer to knowing where our food comes from is to eat locally - within 100 miles

What is the 100-mile food diet?

Farmers Markets

Credit: Wikimedia/Mabel

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The reaction to this profligate globalism is the 'locavore' movement, also known as the 100-mile diet.

This is a consumer backlash that began in California and encourages people to eat food exclusively from a 100 mile (160 km) radius of their home.

The idea is to reduce food miles and increase awareness of seasonality.

The movement has its roots in the hippy counter culture of the 1970s, out of which sprang the Berkeley eaterie Chez Panisse - Alice Waters' benchmark restaurant that champions local Californian produce.

In 2005 a group of San Francisco friends took the concept of eating locally to the web.

Sage Van Wing, one of the original founders of the 'locavore' movement, says it's about "finding food that comes from farmers who are looking after the land, finding food that is healthier to eat because you know the farmer who has grown it to proper organic standards, and eating food that comes from farmers where the workers are looked after".

The flip-side is giving up anything not grown locally - which, for most of the western world, involves sugar, tea, spices and coffee and, to a lesser extent, beer and wine.

At Home

Although no Australian locavore movement exists formally, some of people participate by buying food from local farmers' markets and turning our backs on imported products.

Australians living in all capital cities could give the 100-mile diet a good go as our cities, to varying extents, are surrounded by arable land.

One Melbourne restaurateur, Paul Mathis, has put his money where his ethics are and opened his 100 Mile Café in July 2007.

Some 95 per cent of the food served comes from within a 160 km radius of the Melbourne CBD (although he does sell French Champagne).

Apart from tropical spices and beverages, the two hardest items for an Australian locavore to come by are bread and beer. Except for Adelaide and Perth, the major grain belts lie outside the 160 km radius of our cities, making local wheat for bread and barley for beer very hard to come by.

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