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

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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 (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #979,424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


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.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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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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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Susan Sturms on December 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
For the most part, I enjoyed reading "Plenty," and the notion that people in "developed nations" are strangely disonnected from the origins of their food resonates with me.

Maybe it's because I read this book on the heels of reading Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel," but the account by Smith & Mackinnon seems oversimplified. If tomorrow everyone on the planet decided to eat only food from within a 100 mile radius, how many of the world's approximately 7 billion people would starve to death? Another way to struggle with the larger question: if we all became closer to the land and ate more locally, what would happen to the specialization of craft and profession in our world? If we all lived closer to subsistence, what would happen to the development of medicine, clothing, shelter, and construction necessary to ensure clean drinking water and healthful sanitation?

Don't get me wrong, my mother was raised on a farm in the Sacramento valley in California. (We always called it "the ranch.") My parents always had a huge vegetable garden and many fruit and nut trees in their tract home lots in the Santa Clara valley. My family of seven ate home-grown produce all summer long, my mom canned peaches and pears, and my dad dried apricots. But it wasn't idyllic or romantic, exactly. It was nice. It was food. It was work.

For my part, I just want to find a way to be sanely, sustainably easier on the planet. I am not a vegetarian. I am trying to work my way that direction by eating lower on the food chain and having "meatless Mondays." I want to eat fruits and vegetables grown locally. My husband takes the bus to work. I drive my son with autism to and from his specialized school every weekday.
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