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Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally Hardcover – April 24, 2007
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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.
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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Although you do get insights into where they pick up individual elements of their meals and what that's like for them, the overall image of the day-to-day diet and their relationship to it was patchy for me. Didn't quite work for me as a novel or as a how-to.
I'll keep it in my library and give it another shot someday, but won't be lending it to my friends who get interested in slow food as a starter text.
It is written in alternate fashion, first one chapter by Alisa Smith, followed by a chapter written by James MacKinnon, her mate. They chronicle their efforts at eating only what they can obtain within 100 miles of their apartment in Vancouver, BC, making exceptions only for food already on their pantry shelves.
Much more than the story of a year of local eating, the book also explores this couple's struggle to revive other important relationships. That they succeed in every way is a great encouragement to anyone troubled at finding themselves disconnected.
It will make you yearn for the food options of yesteryear - who knew there were so many dozens of different varieties of honey, or that there was once an orange variety that would thrive in BC? Salt Island alone grew more varieties of wheat and apples than are even available today. Your friendly local butcher knew what cut you preferred, and you knew you could trust your fish market man.
Fortunately, all that variety is not lost forever. Small seed companies like Territorial Seed Company in Cottage Grove, OR, and seed exchanges like The Seed Savers Exchange (google them) are helping restore heirloom varieties to prominence. Read this book, then buy or trade some seeds and plant them, go shopping at your local farmers' market, and help change the way we eat!
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.