Sunday, April 13, 2008
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
This was one of the most inspiring books I've read in a long time. In this memoir, Barbara Kingsolver describes the year that she and her family spent living on locally-grown livestock and produce, much of which they raised and grew on their own farm. Acknowledging the fast-paced and urban nature of modern American society, Kingsolver noted, "Most people of my grandparents' generation had an intuitive sense of agricultural basics: when various fruits and vegetables come into season, which ones keep through the winter, how to preserve the others." (p. 9) Yet today, most of our food is shipped over long distances and often from other countries, in order to be available to American consumers year-round. All this transportation requires fuel -- a waste and yes, a danger, given the threat of climate change.
This book is organized chronologically through the family's "year of eating locally," beginning in April with the first asparagus and the arrival of laying hens. In addition to their own food production, Kingsolver describes experiences with local food on a family vacation, as well as on a trip to Italy with her husband. Her husband and older daughter contribute essays, recipes, and sidebar topics that enrich the book and provide resources for the reader to conduct their own research on the subject.
I came to this book already interested in gardening, and in supporting our local farming community. I've now identified some initial steps I can take to increase the amount of local food on my own table. I'm not quite ready to raise (and yes, slaughter) my own livestock, nor am I going to swear off the supermarket altogether. But I'd like to think my actions will result in a healthier, tastier diet and make a small dent in fossil fuel consumption.
My original review can be found here.