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Good for You? Bad for You?

What's the impact of hyperlocal eating on our health?

I’ve lost 2 pounds. Honestly, I don’t miss them, but I’ve wondered if this 10-mile diet would fatten me up or slim me down or neither.

Since the only carbs that grow—to my knowledge—in my 10 miles are potatoes, perhaps it’s just that. No crackers, toast, rice, pasta. That alone would account for those two evaporated pounds.

But wait. I AM eating foods that in my striving to lost weight are big NOs. A quart and a half of yummy, rich fatty milk. I’ve downed a half a cup of olive oil. And honey. Lots of honey (I’m usually a stevia gal, a bit like people who drink diet coke to compensate for other indulgences).

The point being that a 10-mile diet is a really different frame for eating. It’s eating what’s at hand, nourishing yourself from really fresh food that didn’t travel the normal 1500 food miles but under 10, and some just 10 feet from my backyard garden. Not because it’s good for me, though it is. Because it is what grows here and I’m an animal (just with a too big brain), and animals are all local eaters (except in captivity).

Berries, photo by Michael Porter
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What food is “good for you”? We are so disempowered in our food choices. We know what is “good for us” by reading magazines or labels or books about the latest guaranteed diet. We can no longer hold something in our hands, sniff it, and decide. Weston Price-ies say eat nourishing animal fat. Vegans say no. And we’re not even going to talk about the pills we down because the doctor says they will raise or lower something in our bodies. Every advisor has their reasons and science to back it up.

My partner Joe used to have a picture of a thick, fatty steak by his desk with the label, Health Food of the Future. One, he liked steak but had cancer, and was restricted to what he called “rabbit food.” But his point, being an iconoclast of the highest order, was that “they” come up with new certainties about foods every year. Eventually, he figured, juicy fatty steak would be the latest tofu.

So now I’m going to eat my totally Tricia fritatta. Oh, but aren’t eggs bad for my cholesterol? I measured it before this 10-mile diet, and it’s high. I’ll go back in October to see the result. Good news, bad news. Some say even high cholesterol isn’t bad for you.

By the way, my cat is out probably eating a local mouse. She knows what’s good for her.


Vicki Robin is blogging for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions, about her experiment with a 10-mile diet on Whidbey Island, Wa. The coauthor of Your Money or Your Life, Vicki teaches classes about frugal, creative, and self-sufficient living (see www.yourmoneyoryourlife.org). 

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