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Will Work for Food: Couple Fills Plates Locally

May 20, 2007 (Weekend Edition Sunday)

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For Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, necessity really was the mother of invention.

The couple found themselves stranded in their remote summer cottage in Canada with houseguests arriving and little access to grocery stores and markets. So they turned to the land around them to create a meal.

They caught a trout, picked mushrooms in the forest and mulled apples from an abandoned orchard with rose hips in wine. The delicious meal was a hit, but it also raised a question for Smith and MacKinnon: could they eat like this all the time?

In their new book, Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally, the couple devotes a year to eating only food produced within 100 miles of their Vancouver home.

They begin by researching the origins of the food in their local grocery store. They were shocked to find that a typical ingredient in a North American meal travels about the distance between Boulder, Colo. and New York City before it reaches the plate.

Smith and MacKinnon dust off old cookbooks and begin relying on local farmers who refused to play by the rules of a global economy. They bargain for food, learn the history of varieties of wheat and slowly begin realizing that their struggle to eat locally is a source of deep satisfaction.

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