Thursday, September 10, 2009

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle


Barbara Kingsolver lived in Arizona with her husband and two children. Existing in an area that isn't exactly known for plentiful growth and greens and is more easily pictured as a hot desert by outsiders. Kingsolver and her family decided to leave this hot, dry world behind and move to Virginia where they could keep their own gardens and be closer to family.


That's the pretext of the book: keeping a garden, keeping crops. It's the families goal to live off of the earth, the local earth that is, for one year. Therefore depending on the foods they grow and what they can buy from local farmers. If they can't access any of those items then it means they go without. Mind you, this is in Virginia, where they still get winters and the majority of crops are not coming up.

I enjoy books that surround food and upon seeing this book I thought it would appease my craving. However, when I began to read it I hesitated. The language is strong and each page is filled with information about processed foods versus organic culture, farming, and other related things. It reminded me of some type of instructional book that I would have had to read for college.

But I can't say that it was not informative. For years I have toyed with the notion of going organic. Removing the processed food chemicals and unhappy cows/chicken meat out of my life. This book only convinced me further that I should give it a try.

I'm lucky to live in an area where each week I drive over to the farm and pick up a dozen fresh eggs for 99 cents. Some still have feathers attached! I'm even more lucky to drive over to the local farms fruit stands and pick an assortment of fruits that were just picked from the vines and ready to be eaten. To have my choosing of fresh vegetables that seem just better then store bought products.

The book also points out a lot of eye opening issues. Such as, with our eating habits this generation will be the first where parents out live their children. That we produce enough food in the world to make every person over-weight (therefore eliminating world hunger) but it's more so a matter of who can afford food and not so much whether they have it or not. You can get an idea of the basis that buying food locally is better then from store packaged (and shipped) foods from this quote alone:
If you find yourself eating a watermelon in April, you can count back three months and imagine a place warm enough in January for this plant to have launched its destiny. Mexico maybe, or southern California. Chile is also a possibility. If you're inclined to think this way, consider what it took to transport a finicky fruit the size of a human toddler to your door, from that locale.

The book also includes a list of recipes. Some are all made from vegetarian products and others involve meat. I really feel that there is a great selection of products for all types of 'eaters'. I even followed the recipe for spinach lasagne and made that the other day for meals at work. Granted all of my products weren't local but I'll work on that.

I suggest people to read this book if...
  • you have an interest in food
  • you have an interest in cooking
  • you like the facts on America and food, rather then the politically correct version
  • you want to learn more about organic living
  • you love fruits and vegetables
  • you want to see if this family can do it
You can get access to some of the recipes without even purchasing the book on the website Animal, Vegetable, Miracle but I suggest you read the book either way. It was a really decent read and I truly enjoyed it. I felt as I read it that I was learning and understanding so much more about what I use to nourish myself. And really, food should be thought of a little bit more then it is, because if we were without it we would cease to exist. It's an important item in our lives so why not learn more about it and ultimately appreciate it more?

Due to the blight and very rainy summer my poor vegetable garden didn't fair very well. But the book (and my own stubborn determination) is helping to convince me that next year I'll try again and I'll enjoy the veggies I love to grow so much maybe a little more this time around.

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