I just finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Subtitled “A Year of Food Life,” it’s a personal account of back-to-the-land living crossed with an inquiry into the (big) business of food. It’s not a new book (it came out last spring), nor is it a new concept. But whether Kingsolver’s arguments for eating locally are old hat or big news to you, this is one compelling read.
On one hand, it’s an account of how one family spent one year with the aim of getting their food “so close to home, [they'd] know the person who grew it.” Often, Kingsolver writes, “that turned out to be us.”
On the other hand, the family narrative is interspersed with an examination of corporate agriculture, the impending food crisis, oil dependency, and the effects of each on our planet, our children and communities. Sound heavy? Well… it is, but Kingsolver manages to take such weighty topics and make them not only relevant but digestible. And she provides steps everyone can take to improve the situation, even if you’re not planning to grow your own food.
As a gardener, I loved the way the author organized the book around the calendar, which, because the Kingsolver family was living so closely in tune with nature, echoes the growing cycle – from asparagus in April to (frozen) zucchini the next March. I learned a lot that I’ll apply to my vegetable growing (without feeling like I just read a book on crop rotation or seed starting). I think Barbara would like that.
For recipes and more, visit the Animal, Vegetable, Miracle website.