Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Another view of the 100 mile diet

with 4 comments

This neat little animation was passed along to me by Des Bliek, one of the newer readers of this blog.

The similarities of this place and Japan are actually very close. We too live in a mountainous area, with little land suitable for farming, much of which is in the hands of people who no longer wish to farm. We also have a very unhealthy diet that needs lots of fossil fuels to produce and ship here.

The Japanese Government at least seems to be aware of the issues, and also expects the people to change their behaviour. To that extent BC and Japan seem to have a lot in common. It worries me that one reference suggests it is not only what the consumer wants but what is in the interests of the food industry. But then maybe something gets lost in translation.

So far as I can tell, we do not seem to be doing very much to protect our agricultural land. We also seem to want to encourage more imports – why else would port and highway expansion be so high on the agenda? Certainly I do not see very much evidence of our government trying to make our province more self sufficient. As long as we can find someone to take our raw logs and our dwindling mineral resources we will keep on with business as usual.

As James Howard Kunstler points out on his blog

I mean how we are going to grow the food we eat without massive quantities of diesel fuel and petroleum-based “inputs” and also how we are going to make any of the useful products we need in an energy scarcer time.

Written by Stephen Rees

November 20, 2008 at 11:06 am

Posted in Transportation

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4 Responses

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  1. The Japanese is something akin to “…high quality foods which meet the needs of consumers and the food industry.” Which semantically is not really different, so I think the translation holds.

    The Japanese are also developing quite a bit of agricultural land themselves. In both the cities I lived in during my four years there, rice patties near or adjacent to where I lived were developed for housing and a university, and in the second instance, a mall not much different than the ones we have here.

    That said, there is much more of an effort to get Japanese-grown produce into the stores there it seems. Apart from tropical fruit, the majority of the fruit and vegetables I encountered in the supermarkets there was Japanese. There are some Chiense-produced vegetables as well, but there is also a very strong awareness of the tainted food issue as well. There is also a very strong value-added local foods movement in Japan as well. Sake or Japanese goodies are promoted, and some regions become well known for their products, and in some cases it is in demand nation-wide.

    I think the main difference between here and there is that there is a distinct effort at all levels of society to promote the traditional Japanese diet made with local foods, as well as traditional producers of Japanese fare (like sake or dried persimmon).

    Schools in Japan employ local housewives to make fresh lunches that are healthy, have a high vegetable content, and often are accompanied by informative brochures or speeches by students or teachers about the health benefits of eating either “the Japanese way” or just local and healthy eating in general. (most often the former)

    I don’t see much of that here, as our food culture is not only much less developed, but our government’s efforts at promoting local food in schools or government institutions is laughable.


    November 20, 2008 at 12:30 pm

  2. I’d suggest that the real commitment to doing this is a little more lukewarm than the film suggests. Whenever I visit my inlaws there seems to be yet more malls with access roads and car parks built on what was rice paddies, and ever more abandoned houses in the countryside. The quality of locally produced food is questionable- for example one village where the locals refuse to eat their own rice because they know it is contaminated with sewage.
    Japan has a fairly good reputation in transport and environment, but it isn’t borne out in my experience.

    Andy in Germany

    November 21, 2008 at 3:22 am

  3. […] Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) in Japan.  Thanks goes again to Stephen Rees for writing a great post. Food security is a huge issue for Japan.  Being isolated on an archipelago presents special […]

  4. I have read the 100 mile diet. Although quite noble, if everyone in Vancouver lived like this it would be an ecological disaster.

    The authors drive all over the lower mainland to gather their food. Also their diet is very heavy on dairy. The cows are nearby but the grain they are fed is imported.


    November 24, 2008 at 9:04 pm

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