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Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally Hardcover – April 24, 2007

22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Over a meal of fish, potatoes, and wild mushrooms foraged outside their cabin in British Columbia, the authors of this charmingly eccentric memoir decide to embark on a year of eating food grown within 100 miles of their Vancouver apartment. Thus begins an exploration of the foodways of the Pacific northwest, along which the authors, both professional writers, learn to can their own vegetables, grow their own herbs, search out local wheat silos and brew jars of blueberry jam. They also lose weight, bicker and down hefty quantities of white wine from local vineyards. Their engaging narrative is sprinkled with thought-provoking reportage, such as a UK study that shows the time people spend shopping the supermarket-driving, parking and wandering the aisles-is "nearly equal to that spent preparing food from scratch twenty years ago." Though their tone can wax preachy, the wisdom of their advice is obvious, and the deliciousness of their bounty is tantalizing-if local eating means a sandwich full of peppers, fried mushrooms, and "delectably oozing goat cheese," their efforts appear justified.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Smith and MacKinnon revolt against the industrial model of food distribution and determine to spend a year eating nothing raised or cultivated beyond a 100-mile radius of their British Columbia home. They seek not just health benefits and fuel efficiencies but they also want to reconnect with small, local growers, millers, fishermen, and ranchers to create a community where the consumer knows both where the food comes from and who has produced it. British Columbia, with its Marine West Coast climate, its rivers full of salmon, and its proximity to the sea, offers unique opportunities to pursue this resolve. Along the way, the authors learn a lot about nutrition and uncommon varieties of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, and all the data is shared with the reader. Satisfying all their family's hungers proves daunting but scarcely impossible. Entries for each month conclude with a recipe reflecting use of seasonal ingredients. Knoblauch, Mark
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; 1 edition (April 24, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030734732X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307347329
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,083,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By A reader on June 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
With all due respect, I have to disagree with the accusation that the authors "finked out" when the winter months came. Yes, they did a lot of traveling, but when they returned home they found "an incredible surplus of good food". Why? Because they had relied on the same techniques that many of our ancestors relied on to get through the harsh winter months (before there were super Walmarts on every corner): they canned, froze/cold stored and dried when things were in season.

I hardly believe that the point of all this is to say "you must eat 100% within a 100 mile radius" or you have failed, but rather to just TRY. Search out your local producers (it takes a lot of leg work at first, but it's worth it), support your local economy. And, in doing so, you'll meet some incredible people who are not just dedicated to protecting the environment, but who are also very concerned about your health.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. Dunn on July 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Eat Locally. The subject of this book has the potential to be incredibly preachy, fundamentalist, and dogmatic. Instead, it's down to earth, fun, and intelligent. The authors teamed up to write about their yearlong adventure from 2 points of view - his and hers - alternating author by chapter. I was afraid when I bought this book that it would end up being another well-intentioned half-read paperweight sitting on my bookshelf. I'm happy to report that I devoured it in just a few sittings. It even has recipes.

It's easy to feel helpless to take any meaningful action when faced with all that is going on. The grassroots effort to eat locally has the potential for effecting real change in our landscape, economy, and health. After reading this book, "Eat Local" is more than just a slogan - its something I intend to do, and just as importantly, its something I intend to have fun with.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Genene Murphy on June 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Reading Plenty begins with whimsy. I enjoyed its early, leisurely pace. A seemingly perfect read. But, here's the thing: there's a passage that describes tomato picking in a late-season field that's littered with rotting fruit. Surprisingly, though, the sweetest finds are found among pounds of odd-shaped discards. That's how I felt about this gem. And that's why I kept reading.

The day-to-day descriptions of the authors' relationship with each other, their families and their relationships with the land are what hooked me. There's great writing in sincerity. The authors are honest. Reflective. And funny. Sadly, though, the best passages are buried in a lot of context that I suspect the editors thought were important and necessary ... like a magazine feature gone wrong.

Would I read the book again? No. Did I learn something. Yeah. Does it linger and would I recommend it? Absolutely.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Todd Wentworth on June 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I just finished this book and liked it so much I had to add a review. I had already heard about their 100-mile diet and I had read their magazine articles from the web site, so I was reluctant to pay full price for the hard cover, but am so glad I did! It is not just a reprinting of the web site, in fact I recognized very little material. It is not a how-to book or strictly an investigative report. It is the perfect blend of memoir, essay, journalism, with a little how-to as seasoning. I turned the pages as fast as a good novel! I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it! I would recommend it to most anyone, not just foodies or regional readers.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Mom on November 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As you can see by the title, I've just finished reading Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon. Ms. Smith and Mr. MacKinnon are 2 journalists who live together in a one bedroom apartment in Vancouver, British Columbia. They decide to try the experiment of eating only local food for the year when they learn that the food a typical North American eats travels 1500 to 3000 miles from origin to plate. They define "local" as a 100 mile radius, determined in part by the geography around them, i.e. mountains, ocean, etc...
One of the problems they face is that they decide to start the experiment on March 21, the first day of Spring, without have really prepared for it. They start off eating mainly cabbage and potatoes for weeks on end. Another issue was wheat. They find a local farmer who had planted wheat as an experiment the year before, but had abandoned it. He let them have as much as they wanted out of a 1-ton bag. Unfortunately the wheat was infested with rodents, and later weevils. Months later they find another farmer who supplies them with fresh flour and bread. They plant a garden in a community plot and cultivate a group of farmers and fishermen and give themselves up to preserving food for the winter.
But this isn't just a story of food and eating. It's also a love story. The authors alternate writing the various sections. Ms. Smith grew up in a home where her father slowly died of MS. She was always dreaming of being happier "somewhere else" and developed a serious case of wanderlust. During this year of local eating, she is wondering if her 14 year relationship with Mr. MacKinnon was all there was to life and if she shouldn't strike out again on her own just for the novelty of it all.
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