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The Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on $40 a week)
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The Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on $40 a week)

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  1,166 ratings  ·  201 reviews
Within a single week in 2009, food journalist Robin Mather found herself on the threshold of a divorce and laid off from her job at the Chicago Tribune. Forced into a radical life change, she returned to her native rural Michigan.

There she learned to live on a limited budget while remaining true to her culinary principles of eating well and as locally as possible. In The
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Hardcover, 272 pages
Published May 24th 2011 by Ten Speed Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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Locavore Reading List
36th out of 57 books — 190 voters
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Farming Memoir
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Community Reviews

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Bob
I give it a 'ho-hum'. If I didn't live in Michigan I may have just given it a 'hum...' and if I hadn't ever read any local food memoirs, I may have given it a 'horray'. (did any of that make sense?)

One of many "I switched to eating all local foods and it changed my life" memoirs out there, this one has alot of my home state of Michigan in it. It's nice to see how someone eats locally in the same region as myself.

The writing was fine but I didn't feel alot of sympathy for the writer. She lost her
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Beth Jusino
Mather is not the only writer to embark on a one-year journey through eating local, simple food, and she clearly has experience and passion when it comes to writing about issues of Big Farms and chemical-laced food. But the book overall falls short of the promise in that long subtitle. This is not the story of how Mather lost her job, or her marriage, or found her way. It skates quickly past anything personal, relying instead on research and interviews with local food producers. I feel like I kn ...more
Kerry
I was disappointed with this book. Yes, the author lost her job, got divorced, and moved to a remote area to set up housekeeping, but the book really only focuses on the "foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally" part. I would have liked for her to have shown us a bit more about her emotional journey -- losing her job and divorcing after so many years of marriage had to have been difficult, yet all she focuses on is her ability to feed herself on roughly $40 a week. More vulnerability ...more
Susannah Sanford mcdaniel
I started off disliking this book, and ended up feeling okay about it. I'm not in love, by any means, but it's not terrible. It was nice to hear a story about how Robin Mather researched local cheesemakers and found a neighbor who would share his garden spoils in exchange for some strawberry jam. Then again, lots of people have decided to eat locally, and there's not a whole lot in her "essays" that sets this one apart.

The writing style is a little choppy and most of the "essays" and chapters a
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Kathy
LOVED this book. It was a quick read. I read the Kindle version but will buy the paperback to keep for reference because there are a plethora of simple, delicious-sounding recipes in here along with lots of clear instructions for preserving the garden harvest. The writing is delightful and I absolutely adored the author's "voice". The book is organized by season, beginning with Spring, and covers the first year of the author's residence in a little lakeside Michigan cabin -- just her, her standa ...more
Catherine
There's a point in Mather's book where she takes some time to dress down foodies who are too political, or too focused on economics, and too overbearing in their approach to persuading others. I found it laugh-out-loud ironic considering The Feast Nearby is didactic about so many things ("Will your children grow up thinking chicken nuggets are comfort food?" she asks judgmentally. "Polenta is so easy to make that I can't see why anyone would buy the manufactured stuff," she sniffs.) The book is, ...more
Zinta
The subtitle of Robin Mather’s The Feast Nearby is a mouthful (pun intended), but it sums the book up nicely: “How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way to keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on forty dollars a week).”

Robin Mather is a seasoned food writer and editor, having written 30 years for papers such as Chicago Tribune and The Detroit News and now at Mother Earth News. The Feast Nearby is her second book; the first, published in 1995, Ga
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Carmen
Apr 28, 2015 Carmen rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Locavores
A middle-aged woman loses her job and her husband in the same week. She goes to live in a cottage in the woods. She is poor. She loves animals and keeps acquiring more. She seems to like the solitary life. She is good at cooking and pinching pennies. She is a big fan of eating local. She and her neighbors frequently help each other out. Not very exciting. A lot of recipes.
Chris
This book is a combination memoir and cookbook detailing the author's struggle to stay on budget and eat locally over the course of a year. Not an uncommon theme, perhaps, but it's one that hit close to home as I am also a freelancer (read: poor) who loves to eat fresh, local food.

I was unsure of the book at first because Mather's writing is so succinct it's almost off-putting. I was expecting more memoir than I got. After a while though, I fell into the rhythm of the writing. Mather includes so
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K
The “whole food”, “natural food” and “organic food” movements have been slowly gathering steam across our nation. Paired with the organic and natural foods comes the “local food” movement – if you buy locally you support the small farmer and businessman, plus limit your carbon footprint by keeping fuel costs to a minimum (instead of transporting an item hundreds if not thousands of miles to your kitchen you only go 20 miles to the local farmer). There have been some wonderful books written on ho ...more
Angela
I've been thinking about what to say in a review since I finished this book, alternating from 3 stars to 5 stars. I am a big fan of the whole "eat local" genre so I was an easy mark for this title. The subtitle was a little misleading; after telling us that she lost her job and that her husband left her in the same week, she doesn't discuss either in any substantive way throughout the rest of the book, so you're left with the impression that her animals, her neighbors and some really good food h ...more
Patty
I didn't expect this book to be as good as it was. I doubt I would have picked it up except for it being a book discussion book and it had been recommended by a friend. The extended title is a little much. But that's exactly what the book was about.

The great thing was that Mather did not linger on the end of her marriage or job but gloried in her expertise of food and food preparation. The skills she learned in some of the ways to live on $40 a week for food and being as thrifty as possible wer
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Helena
Aside from the fact that it was well-written and interesting, and contains some recipes I'd love to try, there were two reasons I really enjoyed this book. One-the author stays on message about eating locally on $40 a week. Look at the subtitle--you'll see that she has been through some tough things and it would have been easy to slide into whining, but she never does. She does talk about her dog, cat, parrot (and kind of made me want one), and neighbors, which nicely rounds out her essays, but ...more
Sallie
This is the next book for the Cucina Fresca book club. I've just begun it, so I'll let you know later how I like it.
3/26/12 - finished this on Saturday. I enjoyed it, but will probably not follow all the authors suggestions since buying locally produced food around NE Nevada isn't that easy. Beef, you betcha, but we have to grow our own veggies if we want to eat locally produced vegetables. Plus, other than making jams a few times in my life, I've never canned at all - nor did my mother (who was
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Shauna
Hmmm. Well, I read this because I'm interested in the whole "life-transformation, goal-achieving, leaving your old life behind" genre and also in food. Robin Mather's goal was to eat seasonally and locally on $40 dollars a week and while she achieves it, it wasn't a very interesting book to read. Basically, she canned and preserved a lot. There wasn't a whole lot of dramatic tension, which I never realized I wanted in nonfiction. Apparently, I do: reaching goals is boring if it's easy, and I nev ...more
Penny
Robin Mather’s book is about her personal journey of discovery after simultaneously losing her job as a food reporter for the Chicago Tribune during the cutbacks a few years ago and her husband asking for a divorce. A native of Michigan, she returns to their small cabin on Stewart Lake in Western Michigan, with Boon, her dog, and Pippin her parrot, determined to live locally on $40 a week, which she chronicles engagingly in her essays.

“The Feast Nearby” is just that; a book filled with the nouri
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Florence Millo
This was a pleasant read about the author's new life in a cabin by a lake in Michigan. She loves good, local food and uses her $40 per week food money wisely, buying good food locally produced. She includes many recipes and instructions for preserving fresh food. I liked the fact that she considers carefully her purchases both because of her financial constraints and because she wants to support her neighbors who produce the food she loves. A good, pleasant read.
Fair Cousins
The only reason that I did not give The Feast Nearby 5 stars was the semi-aloof, semi-pompous tone of Ms. Mather and the fact that her little cabin and its surroundings seem a little too perfect. It distracted me to the point that I sometimes considered putting the book down for good. I mean, who in the world is lucky enough to have a cozy cabin by the lake, adorable animals for company, and neighbors who seem to just appear at all the right times with exactly what she needs? Maybe I'm just envi ...more
Nilah
I enjoyed it but I'm not sure why. Guess it interested me because it was about places I know, about cooking and "putting food by", and about living a simpler live, which I try to do-even though I am not always successful.
Colleen
This is a warm, wise book, with terrific recipes! I was in withdrawal when Ms. Mather left her job as food columnist for the Detroit News, still am, I guess, but having this book helps!
NixLapi
I enjoyed this book - I stumbled upon it while searching "foraging" at my local library and am gad I did.

I live in the same general geographical area as the author (so I could identify with the specific seasonal eats), I enjoy eating local when I can (and have not read locavore memoirs to death), I love canning and putting up food, and I enjoyed the food journey Robin Mather took me on. I admit I was also glad that the chapters were more about food than the emotion struggle of a divorce and job
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Iris
Liked it, lots of information and things to think about. Lots of good recipes.
Kim
This book is the story of a newly single and unemployed food writer trying to live frugally. She has many tips for how to "put up" food for the winter. I liked her memoir-like stories, when she shared her adventures and daily life with her pets and neighbors. When she got more preachy, discussing the need for local dairy or more apple varieties, I honestly got bored. I guess if I was new to the subject it would be interesting to me, but having read so many sustainability articles and seen so man ...more
Jessica
The Feast Nearby was a quick and fun read. In 2009 Robin Mather's husband asked for a divorce and then the next week she was let go from her job as a journalist with the Chicago Tribune. She needed to completely revamp her life. Her only work was from freelance jobs, so she knew her budget had to be cut back extensively, but as a food writer she also didn't want to deprive herself of good food. Thankfully Mather shows the reader that you can eat VERY well on a budget and locally. She divides thi ...more
Amanda
A lot of reviewers seemed to dislike this book because the subtitle is so misleading. Their criticisms are well-founded, but I didn't pay that much attention to the cover and so I wasn't disappointed. This is a memoir of a woman who moves to a small cabin in Michigan with her parrot and poodle where she learns to eat locally and take care of herself. You can pretty much figure out from that last sentence whether this book would interest you. I thought it was good and beautifully written, althoug ...more
Julie
I really like the premise of this book: middle-aged woman suddenly loses her job (as a food critic?), her husband leaves her, and she retreats to a cabin in the woods to recoup. With little income, she sets out eat well, buying locally and organic whenever possible, on just $40/week. This book is an account of how she did that through a year's rotation of the seasons.

Part cookbook, part memoir, this book makes for interesting light reading. I learned some things about food preservation, a few tr
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Megan
I expected to read about Robin as she changed her life after becoming unemployed and divorced. Not that I was looking to pick over her career and marriage, but I hoped to read about her her journey to this place an time. I respect her choice to keep it private until she writes a book and titles it "How I lost my job, buried my marriage and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering and eating locally (all on forty dollars a week)". Other than a few factual lines in the 5 p ...more
Rori Rischak
I enjoyed this book, though the second half was better than the first. Robin Mather came across as a lovely person, charming and simple. Not simple as in simple-minded, but simple as in able to recognize, appreciate, and enjoy life’s small pleasures. She didn’t seem a bit judgmental. But perhaps most impressive was that she didn’t come across as a bit whiny.

Other reviewers have commented that they wished she wrote more about her experience with losing a job and a marriage in the same week. I ini
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Christine
When I started reading this book, I was surprised by how many recipes it contained. The sheer number of them made this an extremely quick read. Essentially, it is a collection of essays that shows us how Robin figured out how to support herself (and her local economy) at a little lakeside cabin in Michigan. She finds happiness and security by putting up food, making new friends, and enjoying the company of her dog, bird, kitten, and chickens. She weathers the four seasons and shares her experien ...more
Clare
If Barbara Kingsolver, Henry David Thoreau and Michael Pollan had a child, it would be author Robin Mather's book.

Mather gets divorced suddenly, loses her job and moves to a small cabin in Michigan to heal, retreat and give herself some space. She also challenges herself to eat on a very small budget and as locally as possible. She's incredibly isolated and this book is her thoughts, recipes and food philosophy. She does live with a parrot, a dog, cat and some chickens.

Each month is a rough jou
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