Book Review: Plenty

Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally by Alisa Smith & J. B. Mackinnon

Recommended for people who like The Omnivore’s Dilemma or those who enjoy personal stories

Plenty is the emotional side of The 100-Mile Diet. This is a human story of a couple who did something amazing and started a movement without ever planning it.

Told in monthly installments, and switching narrators from Alisa to JB and back again, Plenty is a mixture of Vancouver history, an ecological and political statement, a couple’s relationship, and food – glorious local food. It’s the story of how the 100-mile diet came to be. The authors don’t back down from the realities of the situation. They don’t shy away from talking about depression and couple-struggles and the doubts and fears that come from trying something so completely new and strange.

I liked both of the authors. I rooted for them. I want to smack their heads together a couple of times, but that’s because, as an outsider I could see what the problem was and wanted so badly to just *fix* it for them. That doesn’t work of course. But it was a one-day read for me and I didn’t want to put it down or for it to end at that point.

As I read it, I was reminded of what great luck I have to live in a relatively mild climate with a growing season that is incredible. I have farmer’s markets to pick from and actual farms that I can visit that are well within 100 miles. We have a pig farm, dairy farm, berry farm, orchard, and hundreds of other options within easy reach. We have vineyards. And we have a backyard garden that is slowly growing able to feed us at least half of our fresh veggies.

What I don’t have is the family buy in that would be necessary to actually eat on the 100-mile diet. Dad would have to start bringing home the fish he catches. I would have to spend more time on the garden. And sadly, unless this house gets miraculously paid off, that means another job on top of the full-time jobs we’re doing.

I’d love to at least implement part of it though. As I read, I was eating tomatoes from St. John’s Bay, SC, cauliflower from Virginia, and tomatoes from the back porch. We’re the sort of family that will do a u-turn to get back to a fresh corn stall. Guess that means we’re the kind of people who could enjoy this type of life.

Definitely recommended as a summer read.


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