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Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  2,937 ratings  ·  461 reviews
Like many great adventures, the 100-mile diet began with a memorable feast. Stranded in their off-the-grid summer cottage in the Canadian wilderness with unexpected guests, Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon turned to the land around them. They caught a trout, picked mushrooms, and mulled apples from an abandoned orchard with rose hips in wine. The meal was truly satisfying; e ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 24th 2007 by Harmony (first published January 1st 2007)
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The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanKitchen Confidential by Anthony BourdainAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara KingsolverFast Food Nation by Eric SchlosserIn Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Food-Related Non-Fiction
36th out of 641 books — 1,232 voters
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara KingsolverThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanIn Defense of Food by Michael PollanThe Dirty Life by Kristin KimballFarm City by Novella Carpenter
Locavore Reading List
6th out of 55 books — 184 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sarah
I should begin by disclosing that I was, from minute one, hugely troubled by the use of the word "raucous" in the title. If it is, indeed, possible to eat in a raucous manner, I don't want to hear about it, much less a year's worth of it. Shudder. You can keep your rowdy, disorderly, strident eating to yourself. One is left to assume, then, that the authors, or a particularly misguided set of marketing people, use "raucous" as do (with great frequency) the college women I work with, who are othe ...more
Jen
This was similar in many ways to Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle", in that it is a year-long experiment in eating only local foods. Kingsolver is a much better writer and I enjoyed reading her book more. "Plenty" did, however, supply what I thought was lacking in the other book: realism. "Plenty" documents the difficulties in trying to eat locally: struggling to live without wheat/flour, trying to store potatoes in an urban apartment, staying within a budget(their first dinner cost over ...more
Ivy
I chose to give this book the rarely (by me) proffered five stars, not because of the brilliance of the writing itself, but because this couple's story was a fine example of ethical frustration, of choosing mindful living while surrounded by overwhelming and seemingly unchangeable insanity. Because they put it out there to enlighten, inspire, and hopefully, make us pause as we contemplate their motivations and the notable efforts of others such as Michael Pollan, Jamie Oliver, Deborah Madison... ...more
Rick
Jan 21, 2012 Rick rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: food
Oh my, the dreaded one-star review. I must say, I went into this book with high hopes and ended up quite disappointed. It seems like a book I would love - a couple around my age living in Vancouver and trying to spend one year living on only food that was grown or raised within 100 miles of their home. In our society these days, this is no easy task. They have predictable adventures trying to find difficult to locate foods (flour, salt, anything but potatoes in the winter, etc) but in the end th ...more
Teigan
It's odd reading this immediately after reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Kingsolver is a professional author, and so she knows how to turn a good tale, but in contrast she also wrote her novel without any real details into the life of a 100 mile diet.

This book is the opposite. Not only do the two of them document the trials of finding local food, but the stress of doing so. I feel that there may have been a bit to much lean on the relationship issues that the two of them had, but undoubtedly
...more
De
These two are pretty funny. They live in BC and decide that they're not going to eat anything that doesn't come from within 100 miles. Naturally along the way they learn to open their eyes and actually see the food that's growing right in front of them (literally) that they never would have noticed. Something we should all be doing. I continue to be amazed at people who will eat whatever greens a restaurant throws into a salad but if you point out the baby dandelion greens growing in their backy ...more
Joseph Rice
I suppose it's always easy to compare like-minded books to one another. Many of the reviews here are tasking Plenty with not being quite in the same league as Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. And it's not. This book is more of a memoir than Kingsolver's, although there are plenty of similarities. But Alisa and James are not farmers, but foragers of a kind, scouring an area of 100 miles in any direction for local food. This book is as much about their mental exercises, and the dou ...more
Ciara
lately i have been into reading books where people do weird personal experiments for a year & document them. good thing there is absolutely no shortage of such books, what with publishing companies basically just trawling the blogosphere & offering book deals to anyone who can be edited to appear functionally literate. almost none of these books are really all that great, but i guess i don't read them expecting great literature. i am just attracted to the idea of people subjecting themse ...more
Courtney
Some parts of this book were great: learning about the agriculture of the Northwest and the people who are devoted to keeping it going strong as well as the great (and not so great) meals that this couple came up with because they were forced to think differently.

Other parts languished, perhaps because it seems like I've heard it all a million times before: eat locally, food travels 1500 miles or more to get to your plate, we're running out of resources, etc. Somehow it seemed a little trite com
...more
Kelly
Admittedly, I am plowing through books centered on concientious eating so my opinion is highly relative. "Plenty" isn't the worst of them, but it wouldn't be high on my recommended reading list.

The negative: In general I found the writing styles of both authors bland. Never once did I really care about the personal elements of their one-year journey eating local foods. At times their eating philosophy seems extreme just for the sake of being extreme. They go most of the year without wheat, but
...more
Sally
Interesting story, written by 2 freelance writers, interspersed with great essays on the history of food. Some favorite quotes:

A study in the UK showed that the amount of time people now spend driving to the supermarket, looking for parking, and wandering the lengthy aisles in search of a frozen pizza or pre-mixed salad is nearly equal to that spent preparing food from scratch 20 years ago.

Despite eating more than ever before, our culture may be the only one in human history to value food to li
...more
Lucy
"One man, one woman and a raucous year of eating locally" is the tagline for this book. I'm not sure if I'd describe it as raucous... tumultuous maybe, but raucous, no.

The book follows Alisa & James as they try to eat within 100 miles of their home in Vancouver, Canada. Their endeavour sees them eat wheat complete with mouse droppings, stink their house out in an effort to make sauerkrat and nearly come to blows over canning of tomatoes.

I enjoyed the book a lot and thought it gave a very rea
...more
Lisa
I remember reading some negative reviews before I read the book but decided to give it a try anyway. I really enjoyed the book. The authors took turns telling their story about how they spent a year eating only the food that could be produced within a 100 miles from their home. I thought it was interesting when the author told little side bits and sometimes I would finding myself thinking - "Wait this is suppose to be about eating local, it's all very interesting but how does it tie in?" - and t ...more
Quinten
This book was good, but not as good as Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle A Year of Food Life, which unfortunately for Smith I had read first.

The book fails due to a compromise of two opposing styles; the epistolary style of the blog that precedes the book, and the cohesive narrative needed for a full-length book. Smith does not do a great job at this merger, and it's further hurt by the changing in perspective between her and her partner.

Instead of a narrative, the book reads more
...more
Amber
Feb 29, 2008 Amber rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Environmentalist, Foodies, Naturalist
This book was the same topic as Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It was a bit of a different perspective though and I enjoyed that. AMV is about a family that lives on a plot of land and they grow most of their own food. Plenty is about a couple (instead of family) that live in an apartment in the middle of the city (instead of the country with land). They have a small community garden plot that they use to supplement their diet when able to. They take you through their story of trying to find what i ...more
Christy
What I liked about this book: I feel like both of the authors, but particularly Alisa, were able to capture the sense of wonder that I have felt about discovering where food comes from and feeling so much closer to it when you know the source. I was never particularly interested in food or where it came from until my husband became a farmer, but now that I regularly (and for some meals exclusively) eat food came from a farm 20 miles away and was picked that very afternoon by Kurt's own hands, ea ...more
Angela
I have been wanting to read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver but it wasn't available at the library yet. This one was. Its the same basic idea, the authors, residents of Vancouver, decide that for one year they will attempt to only eat food grown within a one hundred mile radius of their home. A wonderful idea in theory because the reality is each ingredient we eat travels an average of 1500 miles which is absolutely ridiculous.

It is probably not realistic for most of us to go c
...more
Allie Burger
I savored every moment of this book. I suppose I feel as though I might be friends with Alisa and J.B. if we crossed paths, so their ideas and insights resonated with me. I enjoyed that it was a project they took on as a couple, and that they went through a reflexive process about their relationship and where they were in their lives throughout the course of the narrative. This book stirred my imagination, as I am passionate about food. I have added going to British Columbia and staying in a cab ...more
Chessa
Oct 29, 2007 Chessa rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle or The Omnivore's Dilemma
Quick read about a couple from Vancouver, B.C. who decide to conduct a one-year experiment in local eating. They draw their boundaries with a 100-mile radius of Vancouver and there their adventures begin.

Similar in themes to Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, this book is neither so broad in scope (in terms of increasing the reader's knowledge of industrial food systems) nor narrow in menus - they didn't talk toooo much about what they ate on a daily basis, which I for one missed. I reall
...more
Marion
The 2008 Lake Forest Park Reads book. A memoir of a couple, two writers, who challenges themselves to only buy food grown within 100 miles of their apartment in Vancouver, BC, and their up north lean-to cabin in the middle of nowwhere. They rotate writing chapters. They get real emotional over potatoes, beets, potatoes, tomatoes, more potatoes, onions, etc and have a funny, icky quest for wheat or anything that can be ground for flour. Data is shared from govt agencies, historians, and whole foo ...more
carolyn
A quick, interesting read about a couple in Vancouver, BC that decide to spend a year eating only foods from within a 100 mile of their home. The average food item travels 1500 miles from where it's grown to where it's eaten. Besides the obvious wastefulness of this system they also discover a community of farms, a connection to the seasons and a far more varied diet than most of us enjoy. It's not preachy or holier than though. The reader learns along with them. It's definitely food for thought ...more
Bethany
After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Omnivore's Dilemma, this book felt a little preachy at times.

I really enjoyed hearing about Alisa and J.B.'s personal challenge and how they met the challenge. I think this book would have been amazing if they just wrote about how they came up with their challenge, and their experience with it.

I loved their cabin, and the time they ate locally there. I also enjoyed reading about the different farmers and what they grew.
Roxanne Richardson
This was a pleasant Sunday morning read, akin to perusing the NY Times in the hours between 4 and 8AM. Both informative and entertaining, "The 100 Mile Diet" project grew from this young couple's evolving sense that what was happening in our food distribution system was not only non-sustainable, but nonsensical, and became a year-long commitment to eating only what was entirely sourced to a 100 mile radius of their home. This sounds pretty easy, however they interpreted the challenge quite narro ...more
Beckiezra
I think I liked it better in the beginning, maybe because it focused more on them and their search for local food. As the book progressed there were more tangents about history and native people and traveling. Plus there was the unexplained, months-long, mostly silent couple spat that came out of no where in particular and disappeared just as randomly.

I liked their setup and the way they (generally) stuck to their rules despite the many difficulties that cropped up. I felt they were much more h
...more
Michele
This book was good and provided good information about eating locally. But, for a great read, I like Barbara Kingsolver's book about the same thing (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) MUCH better.
Meghan
Similar to Barbara Kingslover's book but not as good. Each chapter was yet another illustration of how disconnected we are; the problem being that readers of this book probably already know that. I kept waiting for the 'raucous' part of the year of eating local but it never came
Toby
What sounded like a really interesting book took a turn for a narcissistic melodrama about two people with SAD who ate a lot of weird local food. I really wanted to like it, but my overall feeling at the end: meh.
Karl
An easy, interesting read, but after Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle there's not much new here. Depending on how you take to Alisha and James, you may find this enjoyable.
Carlynn
"Anthropological studies of the world's last remaining hunter-gatherers have shown that although they lived in some of the harshest environments on earth, they spent less time working than any typical nine-to-fiver. In his seminal 'Stone Age Economies', Marshall Sahlins revolutionized the Hobbesian view of primitive people's lives - 'nasty, brutish, and short' - by pointing to studies that showed the average time they spent collecting and preparing food ran from two hours and nine minutes per da ...more
Ally
Tasty, excellent reading. Living in the Pacific Northwest made it especially relevant and made me itching to go out and try it already!

Both authours write in a light, humorous style that makes the book digest quite pleasantly. The parts I found most fascinating had to do with the history of local food: the traditional dishes of the local tribes, the bountiful ability of a tiny Canadian island to feed itself- even during a bad winter in the 19th century, the walk-along-the-backs-of-spawning-salm
...more
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I finished the book 2 22 Jul 29, 2008 08:57PM  
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  • Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly
  • Bringing it to the Table: Writings on Farming and Food
  • Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating
  • The Revolution Will Not be Microwaved: Inside America's Underground Food Movements
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  • Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage & Preservation
  • Organic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe
  • Food Not Lawns: How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community
  • The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food
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The book Plenty has different subtitles in hardcover and paperback and the Canadian edition was called The 100-Mile Diet.

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.
More about Alisa Smith...
The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating Law, Social Science, and the Criminal Courts Criminal Courts

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