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Kelly J. Cooper

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Recommending Books [Jul. 24th, 2008|02:21 am]
Kelly J. Cooper
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While sitting up last night, I finished Plenty by Alisa Smith & J.B. Mackinnon (it's out in paperback).

Part memoir, part love letter to the Pacific Northwest, and part discussion starter on the alienation many Americans and Canadians feel from their food, it was surprisingly absorbing.

It also helped give me some perspective on our struggles with our CSA and trying to eat some of it and put some of it up and just giving up and letting the rest of it go bad and get fed to my worms.

I heard an interview with Barbara Kingsolver on NPR (I think) and was interested in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara & Camille Kingsolver and Steven L. Hopp, but it's a more recent book. I knew I'd heard of the "eating locally" phenomenon in book form BEFORE Kingsolver, and while browsing the Porter Square Books' cooking & food writing section (looking for some sort of New England-based seasonal cookbook), I found Plenty and remembered that THAT was the book I'd originally wanted to read.

Part of my confusion is that I think this book has had three names. Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally and Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-Mile Diet as well as The Hundred Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating. I think I first started hearing about their experiment (or the book) around 2005, which is when they did the blog for the The Tyee.

Highly recommended, especially if you're feeling a little overwhelmed by the gas crisis, the farmshare craze, the farmer's markets, and all that craziness that presses in on us.

[User Picture]From: thespian
2008-07-24 04:23 am (UTC)
do you use itunes? If so, go to the iTunes store, and search for 'ethics of eating', then click on the american public media response under iTunes U.

There are two free hour long shows there, featuring Barbara Kingsolver and Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma).
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2008-07-25 11:45 am (UTC)
I do use itunes. That's pretty cool, thanks!
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[User Picture]From: tb
2008-07-24 09:03 am (UTC)
Thanks for the rec; I'll keep an eye out for Plenty.

My first literary encounter with the local eating movement came from Gary Paul Nabhan. He introduced me to the "foodshed" concept in his 2002 book Coming Home to Eat. He was doing a 250-mile diet, which makes sense given that he lives in Arizona. He writes well; the first book of his I read was The Desert Smells Like Rain, which captures the feel of the Sonoran desert.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was a good read too, better on the personal experience front than for the underlying economics, which I think Pollan did a better job of explaining. Kingsolver's perhaps unintentional message was that she was very lucky and privileged to have been able to pull it off. I think it's still good for inspiration for eating more locally, if not for imitation, which most people just can't do.
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2008-07-25 11:44 am (UTC)
which I think Pollan did a better job of explaining

In the Omnivore's Dilemma, you mean? Or another book?
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[User Picture]From: tb
2008-07-25 11:56 am (UTC)
Yes, in Omnivore's Dilemma, also in his articles and essays since. Not that Kingsolver gets it "wrong," nor that I think Pollan is an unbiased final authority, but I found his version explaining the industrial food chain better than hers.

I also like Pollan's gardening-focused books. He writes well.
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[User Picture]From: liralen
2008-07-24 02:40 pm (UTC)
I really, really liked Plenty a lot. *grin* Yeah, just like your CSA, but more so.

I'll have to look for the other, too.
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