Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Published by Harper Perennial, an imprint of Harper Collins
Although Barbara Kingsolver and her family enjoyed the time they spent living in Tucson, Arizona, the severe water shortage and lack of locally grown food was something that always somewhat bothered them. So the family packed up and relocated to their land in Appalachia to experience an entire year eating locally so that they could pay close attention to what they were actually eating, and so they could reduce the oil used for their food to travel to them. Over the year they primarily utilized their own land and the local farmers’ market.
Wow. Not only does Kingsolver have beautifully lyrical prose, but she and her family are totally hardcore as well. All four of them completely bought into this project, eschewing all forms of quick convenience food – not that they relied heavily on it to begin with – but also locally out of season fruits and vegetables. Of all of the books I read for Harvest Week, this was the one that most inspired me to want to get off of my butt and do something. There were times that I got somewhat frustrated feeling that what Kingsolver was able to do would not be feasible for a good number of families, but that annoyance was mitigated by the fact that Kingsolver acknowledged this fact and made suggestions for how to do what was possible. In many ways this was actually a very practical book. As Kingsolver narrated the family’s story, her husband wrote short articles bringing their story into a larger context, and her college-aged daughter did a sort of wrap-up for most chapters, including recipes and sample meal plans for the week.
The chicken report: Chickens played a pretty prominent role in “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,” particularly in the life of Kingsolver’s youngest daughter who adored the birds and had a very well thought out business selling eggs. What really captured my attention, though, was a different breed of poultry. Kingsolver raised a brood of heritage turkeys, and some of the facts she shared about the type of turkeys most of us buy at the supermarket put me off my Thanksgiving dinner just a bit. For instance, we have so screwed with the genes of our factory farm turkeys that mature birds are “incapable of lying, foraging, or mating!” I mean, is that even a real bird at that point?
“Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” is a fantastically well-written and very inspirational book, and I highly recommend it.
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