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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)

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  1,454 Ratings  ·  229 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
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published May 24th 2011 by Ten Speed Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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Mar 27, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Jul 07, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
Beth Jusino
Apr 04, 2012 rated it liked it
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
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
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
Jul 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Nov 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
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.
Mar 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
May 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food, earth-morning
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
Fair Cousins
Mar 28, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Aug 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, readin12
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
Dec 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
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
Florence Millo
Jul 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
Aug 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent resource for canning, preserving and pantry management. The recipes are terrific, too.
Mar 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Liked it, lots of information and things to think about. Lots of good recipes.
May 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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!
Jul 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2017
I liked this one, but sort of expected more from the author about the after math of her marriage and loosing her job. Instead it was all about food, how the author preserved every kind of food that was in season, how she liked to find her food locally or if not able to buy from people that supported small farmers. I very much like the idea, but it's not realistic for me as I'm a super picky eater. I do can salsa each year and make my own jam. Want to expand to other things, this book might just ...more
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. The author's writing style was lovely. While reading the book, I began implementing changes in my diet to incorporate more local food sources, such as buying milk in a glass bottle from a local diary. I hope to make more changes as the year progresses, including canning more food.
Mar 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Thought it was essays with some recipes but it's the other way around. I won't be canning as she did but may use some of the recipes.
Jan 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: local-eating
As the title amply describes, Robin Mather must move to her lake cottage and manage on 40 bucks a week after a job loss and divorce. She writes her tale with a beautifully narrative style, and I found myself drinking in her story like a peaceful retreat.

Which is odd; I had expected a bit more struggle, a bit more difficulty. There a few reasons why her journey is a bit simpler than I had expected. One, she lives alone, so there are no other (human, that is) mouths to feed. That in itself makes h
Mar 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
May 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
I found this book very enjoyable. It has several underlying themes, many of which resonate with me. The sub-title spells out the genesis - in the space of a week, her husband divorces her and she loses her newspaper writing job. Retreating to a 650 square-foot cabin on a lake in rural Michigan, she starts over, with only $40 per week available for food/groceries.

The author is a "locavore" and one who has previously written of the dangers of GMO foods, so not surprisingly, one of the stronger the
Apr 08, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
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
Dec 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cooking-food
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
Mar 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food, domesticity
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
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“There is fundamental importance in living well even in hard times. By “living well,” I mean finding a way to live that rings true to you and your values and that brings pleasure to your life.” 1 likes
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