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Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-Mile Diet Paperback – April 22, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

Review

This very human and often humorous adventure about two people eating food grown within a short distance of their home is surprising, delightful, and even shocking. If you’ve only talked about eating locally but never given yourself definitions—especially strict ones—to follow, I assure you that your farmers’ market will never again look the same. Nothing you eat will look the same! This inspiring and enlightening book will give you plenty to chew on.”
—Deborah Madison, author of Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets

Plenty posits a brilliant, improbable, and finally deliciously noble notion of connecting to the world by striving first to understand what’s underfoot. Beautifully written and lovingly paced, it is at once a lonely and uplifting tale of deep respect between two people, their community, and our earth. Plenty will change your life even if you never could or would try this at home.”
—Danny Meyer, author of Setting the Table

“A funny, warm, and seductive account of how we might live better—better for this earth, better for the community, better for our bellies!”
—Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future

“Engaging, thoughtful…packed with natural, historical and personal detail.”--Liesel Schillinger, The New York Times

“Succeeds because Smith and MacKinnon don’t give a ____about being normal. Locavorism isn’t normal—that’s the point—and they fly their freak flag with bemused pride, giving themselves over to the mania that infects the newly converted….One imagines Kingsolver at home on her sturdy homestead shaking her head and clucking at those ‘trendy’ kids, but they’re the ones I’d rather have dinner with.”--Martha Bayne, Chicago Reader

About the Author

Alisa Smith, a Vancouver-based freelance writer who has been nominated for a National Magazine Award, has been published in Outside, Explore, Canadian Geographic, Reader’s Digest, Utne, and many other periodicals. The books Way Out There and Liberalized feature her work.

J.B. MacKinnon is the author of Dead Man in Paradise, which won the 2006 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-fiction. His feature reportage on issues ranging from African prisons to anarchism in America has earned three National Magazine Awards.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter; Reprint edition (April 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307347338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307347336
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #983,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By SMcC on May 15, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Most importantly, this book is not preachy or righteous. They make that clear in the first chapter, and I found it to be a relief. It's also written in a very relaxed style and the alternating authors in each chapter provide a deeper context.
The authors provide a lot of insight into what we consume and how we consume it. Although the book doesn't strive to be life changing, I have to say it is habit changing. Even if you don't choose to eat locally, you won't be able to resist looking more carefully at where your food is from.
The recipes at the beginning of each chapter are a nice plus!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By R S Cobblestone VINE VOICE on December 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
In Plenty, authors Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon tell their story of living for a year eating only foods produced within 100 miles of their home in Vancouver. This book is also published as Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally; and The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating.

I think they are all the same. Regardless, I read the "Plenty: Eating Locally On The 100 Mile Diet" version.

So two vegetarian writer/journalists get the bug to eat locally. Gone is olive oil from Italy, sea salt from Hawaii, wine from Australia, or grapes from Chile. Unfortunately, living in the Vancouver, British Columbia area, this also means that wheat is in short supply, salmon is abundant, and most fruits and vegetables are very seasonal.

Here are some tidbits, and comments:

- "We were living on a SUV diet" (p. 5 in Plenty). The 100 mile diet was born.

- "We had a single ironclad rule: that every ingredient in every product we bought had to come from within 100 miles" (p. 10). They did have a "social life amendment" which allowed them to break these rules in social situations.

- As they looked in the grocery stores, they noted "Yet here we were in the modern horn of plenty, and almost nothing came from the people or the landscape that surrounded us. How had our food system come to this" (p. 13).

- "There is a term for the experience of tugging your little red wagon through a strawberry field, and that term is 'traceability'. It's a measure of how close or distant one is from one's food" (p. 54).

- "We never will accept the idea that animals can be treated like machines that produce meat, milk, and eggs" (p. 70).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By B. Duke on December 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
I read Plenty the year it was first published. The copy I bought this time is for a member of my family. This book was so great, I read it to my husband aloud in the car on a trip we took. It is chock full of information we all should know about the food we eat and at the same time, never boring. It is one of the most reader-friendly books I've read in my entire life and it actually "sucked me in". Alisa Smith and J.B. McKinnon have become my new "favorite authors". I wish they'd write another!
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By Jon on December 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
With the growing awareness of the environmental costs that food can incur, eating locally has become a popular trend.
"Plenty" by Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon is the story of a family determined to eat locally. They vowed for that a year, they would not eat anything that traveled more than 100 miles to get to their plate. The book is many stories of this year. They went through challenges and victories but "Plenty" tells their story of the 100-mile diet.

Smith and Mackinnon live close to a fish shop, they also had easy access to cheeses, eggs, and butter. This food they had no problem with, but throughout the book they would think of things that they wanted that would be very difficult to get. Wheat was one ingredient that was difficult for them to get, and without wheat they had a hard time making bread. The book is full of ways that they got around their deficiencies. For example when they wanted to make bread without any wheat, they found a way to make bread from turnips.

This book did a great job of addressing both the importance of eating locally and how extremely difficult it can be. Some things that our culture has come to enjoy on a daily basis, just cannot be produced locally. For example, it is very difficult to grow coffee beans anywhere but the correct climate. Every time they were close to failing, they found a way to get around eating something produced far away. I also liked how the book was set up. Each month of the year was a separate chapter and at the beginning of each chapter there was a recipe of something that they made during their yearlong 100-mile diet.
By the end Smith and Mackinnon had done what they set out to do. They proved that even in this day and age of globalization and a flat food system, living off the land around us is still possible.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By the real skinny on December 11, 2011
Format: Paperback
I liked the book, particularly the parts James wrote. Alisa comes across as a bit of a pratt with long self pitying and bitter soliloquies that were a turn off. I am very interested in sustainable farming and love the ideas of the couple trying to live within their local means but what was disconcerting and made NO SENSE were all the stats that referred to Harvard studies and what "Americans eat" and "American obesity" then have the writer (who lives in Canada or BC) continue the stats with "we" and describe ideas and manners and stats that are Canadian. We may all be in North America, but only those who reside within the borders of the US with their government, nationalistic fervor, social system and hormone filled meats and genetically engineereed veggies are known world wide as AMERICANS.

Canadians are known as Canadians and Mexicans as Mexicans, Guatemalans as --you got it. There are no United Statesians. By appropriating/combining portions of our identity for some stats and then singling us and our habits out for others, all within the same paragraph ... it is confusing when there is no delineation. I have to confess, that when Alisa was writing, I found myself thinking MORE about the encroachment of globalization and loss of national identity due to economic combinations than about food and the loss of local produce.

I appreciate her angst, but felt not only sorry for James but also that some of what she wrote was a drag. it was not a diary after all, it was supposed to dwell on the task at hand, not on whether she wanted to sneak around or end her marriage or was having a crisis--unless that is what local diets do to a person's mind. All in all an insightful read and pretty enjoyable.
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