Book Review: The Feast Nearby by Robin Mather

image-the-feast-nearbyLocavore life on an almost invisible budget.

Robin Mather has over 30 year’s experience working as a journalist with a passion for the truth behind food production. And she lets nothing get in her way.  The head of Michigan’s largest dairy co-op once told her,

“Young lady, if you write about rBST (a GMO hormone given to cows), I will have you killed.”

She did write about the dairy industry’s use of rBST. The newspaper she worked for took the threat so seriously that they hired her a bodyguard for two months after publishing the article. *

Bookstores are full of memoirs with recipes these days, but The Feast Nearby is much more than a good read with some recipes to earmark. It’s the story of the author’s triumphant emergence from  personal hardship – burying a marriage and losing a job in the same week – to a fulfilled new life.  The amazing thing is that this new life is based on a locavore existence with a budget of $40 a week. (See another book review on the topic of locavore living.)

With  disciplined resourcefulness, a sensitive imagination, and willingness to work hard, Mather made of disaster a life of good eating and good friends. Her rich descriptions of locavore life move through the seasons of one year, providing almost 100 mouth-watering recipes to take into the kitchen and start working with. Some of those recipes, by the way, are Middle Eastern and quite authentic.

Along the way, we meet her community. Neighbors  help her set up a chicken coop. Another plans and builds her a wood-burning stove to survive the freezing Michigan winters. Raising chickens for eggs (like Green Prophet’s editor Karin), growing herbs, and wildcrafting, she stretches the dollars she must spend at the local butcher and at the  farmer’s market. She has an admirable capacity for flexibility, planning, and carrying through. She writes of sitting down to calculate a budget to fit her new circumstances.

“It took me a little while to retrain my mind,” she writes, ” – longer to do that than to put all the food by for winter, actually.”

I found her personal example as inspiring as the dozens of good recipes and fine essays on the art of living well on little money.

Mather authored the first  book on  the perils of GMO for the general public: A Garden of Unearthly Delights: Bioengineering and the Future of Food. (1995). The book is now out of print, but available on the popular e-bookstores.

The Feast Nearby by Robin Mather

266 pages

Ten-Speed Press ISBN 978-1-58008-558-8

Robin Mather’s blog ::

* From a personal conversation with the author.

More on eating locally at Green Prophet:


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4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Feast Nearby by Robin Mather”

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  2. Tinamarie says:

    May I be in line to borrow your copy? 🙂

  3. Murtaza says:

    Hi, if it’s not imprudent to ask, who was/is the head of Michigan’s largest dairy co-op? I’d like to know… 😉

    1. Miriam Kresh says:

      I can’t tell you, because I don’t know, Murtaza. Robin didn’t mention his name. This was a number of years ago, in any case. That man may not even be in office anymore.

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