The 100-mile Dinner

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson


When eight percent of a town’s people read the same book at the same time, the fact is worth noting.  And when those people get together to do what the book’s author wants them to do, you could call it a mass movement.

Last Friday night, 130 residents of the Western Massachusetts town of Leverett (population 1,663), participants in a town-wide reading project centered on Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, poured into the elementary school gym for dinner, and to talk about the book’s theme.

In the book, Kingsolver tells of her family’s undertaking to eat nothing but locally grown foods for a year.  To honor that idea, with few exceptions the dinner consisted solely of items grown within 100 miles of Leverett.  The entree for the $10-a-plate meal was organic chicken in a garlic and herb sauce.  The chicken came from 103 miles away, because the price was better than any that could be had locally. There was pasta with ricotta and moscarpone, mushrooms, onions, peas, and herbs — all local except the pasta and the wheat it was made from.

In these parts (Leverett is about 20 miles south of my tiny town, one day closer to spring) March is a cruel month for people who want to eat locally.  Patches of dirty snow are everywhere. Eyes both sharp and eager can catch one-inch hints of crocuses-to-be. But the growing season is a far-off dream, and most vegetables and fruits come out of root cellars and storage bins.

As if by magic, though, one local farm was able to come up with enough baby spinach and arugula to make a salad. There was barramundi from a local fish farm, and mashed potatoes with garlic. Dairy products and apples are easy to come by here, so dessert was apple cake with whipped cream. Local honey and maple syrup were on the menu.

Heading up the cook staff was the owner of a restaurant in the next town over, famous for her locally-grown meals. Cost of the food for 130 came in at just under $1,000, with no skimping in quality or quantity involved.

Until April 14 you can read more at the Greenfield Recorer‘s web site.

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One Response to “The 100-mile Dinner”

  1. Now that’s a localvore’s dream night out. Good price, good food, good company, and no skimping on local.

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