Believe it or not, I do have other passions besides cooking and food. One of those passions is reading. I am a self-declared bibliophile. I love books. All sorts of books – (except maybe Self-Help books, whatever those are). My favorite book of all time is not a cookbook. In fact, it is A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. It’s a book about the trials and tribulations of a group of residents in India. And it’s beautifully written. (If you care, my second favorite is Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Just in case you care)
Anyways, I obviously love perusing through cook books, as well. But what’s more fun than reading a cook book is actually buying a book about food or an author’s specific experience with food. I don’t just mean Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential – that is, of course, an excellent book, but there other less noticeable, or hyped-up, authors out there who write amazing stories of their experiences with food. Recently, I read Julie and Julia by Julie Powell. It’s about a woman’s quest to make every recipe in Julia Child’s Joy of Cooking. It’s a fun read. I also love Michael Ruhlman and his books about the eccentricities and genius of professional chefs. But recently I read a book that doesn’t have anything to do with actual cooking. It has to do with food – real food. Simple food. Local food. It’s called Plenty One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally. It’s written by Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon, who also happen to be life partners. You might have heard of this book in relation to what is now known as the 100-Mile Diet. The 100-Mile Diet requires people to eat only foods that have been grown within a hundred mile radius of where they live. They have to do it for one year. Yes – ONE YEAR. That would be 365 days of eating LOCALLY. While the benefits of doing this are obvious, the downside…it is frickin’ hard!!! I mean, can you imagine having to find wheat within 100 miles of where you live so that you can simply bake some bread? Or locally grown coffee…hmmm…no thanks. I suppose people who live in more rural parts of the country can do this, but I don’t know anywhere within 100 miles of D.C. where I could get some quality coffee beans, except for Starbucks.
In any event, reading about the authors’ challenges with the 100-Mile diet is really fascinating. It makes you feel like you just want to start plowing the earth and eating what you grow. Unfortunately, for us city dwellers, the plowing can only mean planting some herbs in your garden box or buying locally grown organic foods from Whole Foods. But guess what…even Whole Foods doesn’t have locally grown coffee beans. Which basically means that I’m going to have to skip this diet.