Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Localtarian's Library: "Plenty" by Alisa Smith & J.B. MacKinnon

Alright, so it's been a bit heavy around here lately with all the philosophical discussions about the deeper meaning of eating locally. Would you like to just sit back with an entertaining read? In that case, don't hesitate to pick up "Plenty" by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, although I must warn you, you may be inspired into thinking about these deep philosophical questions yourself.

Smith and MacKinnon are the creators of the hugely successful 100-mile Diet. Since their one-year experiment to eat within 100 miles of their home in Vancouver, British Columbia (recorded first in a blog and now in this short book) they've become true eat local activists, traveling around North America to promote wise eating.

While admitting that their "actions are abstract and absurd, and they are neither saving the rain forests nor feeding the world's hungry," they also make a convincing claim for eating locally. I was at first put off by their vegetarian, bike-riding-in-the-snow-to-save-on-gas mentality, and I almost dismissed them as, um, just the sort of people you would expect to undertake such a crazy experiment in Vancouver. They grew on me, though, and by the end of the book I was cheering for them enthusiastically.

For this couple, the whole experience was powerfully personal. As MacKinnon says in the May chapter, "I could relate to each item not only to its place but to its specific farm and to the faces of those farmers." It was a way to connect to the heritage of their city as well as the history of their families. The book is a masterful balance of brutal honesty (relationships have their hard times), informative commentary (ever wondered how to separate chaff from wheat?), and hilarious moments ("Some people have a stockbroker or a drug pusher; I now have a fisherman.")

Deconstructing Dinner (my new favorite podcast) interviewed the couple back in January. You can find it here.

1 comment:

Diane said...

I listened to the podcast you recommended. I can see why you liked the couple who did the 100-Mile Diet. They sound like real people!