Monday, October 29, 2007
Monday, October 8, 2007
I've loved Barbara Kingsolver since I read the The Bean Trees in college. Couple that with the fact that her latest work is about food, plus the fact that it takes place where I'm originally from, and, well, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life was irresistible.
Animal is part journal, part lesson, part cookbook. I enjoyed all three parts.
As the title suggests, the book traces a year of growing food. Kingsolver and her family committed to a year living on only in-season food that they produced themselves or that they buy from local resources. Kingsolver shares both funny (squash takes over the house at one point) and somber (rooster harvest day) of home food production. The author's husband, Steven Hopp, an environmental studies professor at the college I attended, inserts brief lessons on mass food production pitfalls and problems. Daughter Camille adds personal anecdotes and recipes. (Daughter Lily is too young to participate but is a source of amusement in several places.)
Kingsolver strongly, and perhaps somewhat unfairly, condemns all industrial agriculture. While she doesn't suggest that everyone commit to the same regime with which her family experimented (indeed, she occasionally looks forward to the possibility of buying out-of-season foods), she does argue for the consumption of organic produce and free-range meats. She dismissively fails to deal in a real way with the fact that organic and free-range foods are often not financially (or geographically) accessible.
Despite these shortcomings, I highly recommend Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. First, because it is a delightful and informative read. And second, because, even if we don't adopt Kingsolver's food beliefs, we should be more aware of what and how we eat.
Check out the book here: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle