Our friend Kriss is on the map! The first product of the Chick Mappers, a group of Mark Harrower’s students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the 100-Mile Diet Map is an interactive map of food sources within a hundred miles of Madison, Wisconsin. Kriss & Shannon’s Circle M Market Farm showed up right away:
If you are not familiar with the idea of eating locally, check out Barbara Kingslover’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food, Smith and Mackinnon’s Plenty, Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors cookbook, and Joel Salatin’s Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal.
The exciting thing for me about this project, and other similar resources such as Drive Alternatives, is the potential for interaction (personalizing, producing, sharing) in domains that have previously been places of passive consumption. “Though the food map started as a class project,” says the UW News story on the Hundred-Mile Diet Map, “the women will continue to maintain and expand it, possibly adding interactive resources such as recipes, blogs and even food preservation tutorials.” That kind of connection and sharing is what will allow us as human societies to learn to be conscious of and take responsibility for the earthly places in which we live and move. Imagine driving cross country in an alternative-fuel vehicle, and being able to connect with local food and farmers along the way (instead of relying on a national network of fast food outlets) and reinforcing the infrastructure for the non-standard (and sustainable!) transportation system of your choice (instead of relying on the mainstream supply networks). Such an experience is a far cry from the traditionally passive consumption of industrial products, and it is information sharing and community learning, the educational infrastructure supplied by these websites, that makes it possible.
Clay Shirky’s words on media are true for food, travel, and books as well:
I was having dinner with a group of friends about a month ago, and one of them was talking about sitting with his four-year-old daughter watching a DVD. And in the middle of the movie, apropos nothing, she jumps up off the couch and runs around behind the screen. That seems like a cute moment. Maybe she’s going back there to see if Dora is really back there or whatever. But that wasn’t what she was doing. She started rooting around in the cables. And her dad said, “What you doing?” And she stuck her head out from behind the screen and said, “Looking for the mouse.”
Here’s something four-year-olds know: A screen that ships without a mouse ships broken. Here’s something four-year-olds know: Media that’s targeted at you but doesn’t include you may not be worth sitting still for.
Here’s to food, and lifelong learning, that includes us all!