A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this green-themed docuseries -- which challenges Candian families to follow a diet limited to locally produced foods -- is full of interesting information, recipes, and tips. But it also heavily promotes the commercially successful book on which the show is based. Expect occasional strong language (words like “crap" and "pissed” are audible, while stronger choices are bleeped) and visible drinking (though not to excess). There are some tension-filled moments fueled by frustration, and some of the participants behave selfishly. Still, the series is pretty mild overall, but it may not really appeal to younger viewers.
What's the story?
THE 100-MILE CHALLENGE follows one community’s attempt to spend 100 days consuming only locally produced food and beverages. The social experiment -- which is based on a diet book written by show hosts/stars James MacKinnon and Alisa Smith -- challenges the residents of Mission, British Columbia, to cook and/or consume meals made with ingredients that have been grown or raised locally. The six participating families must remove ingredients like commercial breads, rice, soda, spices, tropical fruits, and chocolate from their cupboards and replace them with ingredients found nearby. From looking for locally grown lemons to finding creative ways to bake bread from limited supplies of grain, each family develops their own strategy for sticking to the diet while trying to redefine their relationship with food.
Is it any good?
The 100-Mile Challenge demonstrates the physical and social benefits of eating locally produced foods, as well as the positive economic and environmental impact of supporting local food producers. But it also shows how hard it can be to break the daily habits and rituals that have become synonymous with modern-day living -- like buying cups of designer coffee and eating Chinese take-out -- and returning to more time-honored and organic ways to put food on the table. It also shows how ill-prepared many communities would be to sustain themselves if imported items were ever unavailable.
The show sends some important positive messages, but they're presented within the context of a commercially successful diet plan. This often makes the show seem more like a promotional vehicle for the MacKinnon and Smith's book than a source of information for consumers. Some of the participants exhibit some questionable behavior, too, like finding sneaky ways to eat banned products and being selfish when they do find a coveted food item. Bottom line? There's some good stuff here, but you need to sift through a few less-desirable ingredients to find it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about using TV shows to promote brands and/or commercial products and services. Do you think that's ethical? Parents: Check out ome of CSM's tips on selling to kids.
Do you think it would be possible for you to eat only foods produced within a 100-mile radius of your community? What would the challenges be? The advantages? What foods would you miss the most?
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