The Feast Nearby

I came across The Feast Nearby in Taste for Life, the free magazine I pick up when I shop at Nature’s Market. Each issue has suggested reading–“Food for Thought”–and I figured this book by food journalist and locavore Robin Mather was right up my alley.

The book is about how, within a week, Robin 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 where she learned to live on a limited budget while remaining true to her culinary principles of eating well and as locally as possible.

What I didn’t realize when I ordered the book from the library is that “rural Michigan” meant West Michigan. Robin lived only one county away from Bill and me when she wrote The Feast Nearby. I was so excited to read about her exploration for local food sources and her discovery of some of the same ones I use, such as Geukes Market (for meat processing) and Dancing Goat Creamery. (I still need to make a trip to the Kalamazoo Farmers Market, her local market, but it’s a bit of a drive for me.) And, her seasons–as well as her produce options–aligned with mine since she lived nearby.

But even if you don’t live in the Midwest, this book is a great read for locavores, or anyone who is learning to live on a limited budget while eating healthy and procuring local resources. The Feast Nearby chronicles Robin’s preparation of local food through all four seasons of one year, all on forty dollars a week. It’s loaded with recipes that accompany the seasons and tips for storing food long-term, as well as stories about her relationships with her neighbors, local farmers, and other people from whom she procures/barters for food. (As an animal lover, I also appreciated the stories about her three pets that kept her company in her little cabin by the lake.)

When I finished the book, I was hoping I could interview her for my blog but it turns out she moved to Kansas after accepting a position at Mother Earth News. I guess I’ll have to wait until I make that road trip to Kansas to meet her in person. Meanwhile, please join me in following her blog at


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