Blog: Fighting food miles with ingenuity

Catherine Sleep | 29 September 2005

Can Americans eat locally? Today’s the day a few thousand will find out. A restaurant company in Palo Alto, California, has challenged the chefs who run its 190 restaurants to provide diners with at least one meal that is 100% locally grown. The initiative is part of an effort to raise awareness of the problem of food miles.

The challenge has proved inspirational for some of the chefs involved. One chef based in Portland, Oregon, decided to track down a local source for salt. Finding none locally, he took the drastic step of boiling down sea water and making his own salt.

I can’t imagine many chefs will go to such lengths, but the initiative makes the point well. Cutting down food miles is good for the environment, it encourages diversity among local farmers and it’s good for flavour.

It’s a sign of the times – or perhaps an indicator of the scale of, well, everything, in America – that for the purposes of this challenge, ‘locally grown’ means grown within a radius of 150 miles from the restaurant in question. To our ancestors 150 miles would have been anything but local, but given that the average item on an American dinner plate travels over 1000 miles, I can see that 150 miles is but a short hop.

Eat Local Challenge


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