Friday, February 17, 2012

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

How would you balance family, jobs, a small farm, and trying to eat local, organic 99% of the time? Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is about the Kingsolver-Hopp family giving it a try on an ancestral Virginia farm. Barbara Kingsolver wrote most of the story, with her husband Steven Hopp playing Mr. Science Guy and her oldest daughter Camille chiming in with recipes and a 19-year-old's point of view. Their youngest daughter, Lily, was too young to sign a book contract, but there are plenty of stories about her and her chicken empire.

The book was a nice narration of why the family decided to leave their friends and jobs in the desert southwest, to give up their various addictions to corn syrup and junk food, and make a go of feeding themselves locally (growing it themselves or buying within a 100 mile radius). The goal went beyond just localvorism; this family wanted to eat only organic plants and organic, free-range, happy meats, eggs, and milk products. In addition, eating local means eating with the seasons. Try to picture winter with no fresh fruits and veggies. If you are of an older generation, all this probably sounds close to how you grew up. But, alas, my generation has never known what it truly means to eat with the seasons.

I loved how it was a very human story; there were items each member found they could not go without - like coffee and certain spices and chocolate. These things had to be imported from another country and sometimes another continent. Going without fresh fruit during the winter was difficult for the daughters. When they had friends over, or ate out with friends, they often just simply had to set aside these goals and enjoy the company. The story followed this family and what drove them to this year-long experiment; the principles behind it, the continuing motivation, the wonder and joy of growing, harvesting, storing, cooking, and eating one's own food. The real clincher for me was the way the authors refrained from imposing their beliefs about food on the reader.

I listened to the audio version, which was performed by the Kingsolver-Hopp family. Each of them had even, pleasant voices and were able to add the appropriate humor and stress as desired.

+++++: Lots of great info about small farming, localvorism, eating organic, raising turkeys. The audio version includes recordings of their chickens to create some ambiance. The book provides lots of links for further information.

-: My Main Man (M3) is still not convinced that we need turkeys. Sigh......

1 comment:

  1. I'm really glad you posted this review here. I think that if I had the money, I'd be into all kinds of environmentally friendly stuff in a big way. We're not going to be farmers any time soon (I don't have the skills, and my wife's work requires larger cities), but I really love stuff like this.