2008-07-09 00:00

IT’S been called the 100-mile diet (161 km), but for Barbara Kingsolver and her family, their experimental “year of seasonal eating”, described in her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, was about much more than just food miles. It was about taking charge of their food, of being what she terms “locavores”, deliberately eating only local food, vegetables and animals that they and their neighbours had grown and raised, organic, seasonal, pasture-fed and definitely not a feedlot or battery shed in sight. And anyway, they had to extend the limit to 120 miles (193 km), because they couldn’t find organic milk from pasture-fed cows any closer to home.

“Transporting a single calorie of a perishable fresh fruit from California to New York takes about 87 calories’ worth of fuel,” adds Kingsolver. Which is why her family didn’t eat bananas for a year — they don’t grow in the Appalachians in Virginia, where the Kingsolver-Hopp farm is situated. They also had to say no to snack foods, processed foods and cucumbers from warmer parts of the world. “Six eyes, all beloved to me, stared unblinking as I crossed the exotics off our shopping list, one by one,” Kingsolver writes. Each family member was allowed one treat. Kingsolver chose the spices turmeric, cinnamon and cloves, Hopp wanted coffee (organic Fair Trade), 19-year-old daughter Camille, after her request for fresh fruit was rejected, opted for dried fruit and nine-year-old Lily asked for hot chocolate. They also bought olive oil, vinegar and organic grains.

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