Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life is Barbara Kingsolver's captivating account of a year spent eating only homegrown and locally raised food. Known best for The Poisonwood Bible, her 1998 novel about Christian missionaries in the Congo, Kingsolver uses beautiful language and humorous anecdotes to take readers through the ups and downs of her family " … ma[king] every attempt to feed ourselves animals and vegetables whose provenance we really knew."
With her husband and two daughters, Kingsolver begins the journey by moving from Tucson to a farm in Appalachian country, Virginia. Once there, the family patiently waits for the asparagus to bloom so they can begin their year living as locavores (not to be confused with femivores). Kingsolver winds in and out of stories told chronologically about raising turkeys, entertaining 100 guests on locally grown food, and feeling apprehensive in the scarcity of winter and joyful in the abundance of summer. The stories made me laugh out loud, share the book with friends, and prompted more than a few good discussions.
Kingsolver makes the same point that writers like Michael Pollan and the documentary Food Inc. do: Most of us Americans have forgotten where our food comes from, and don't recognize the environmental cost of having that food brought to us. To counteract this forgetfulness, Kingsolver encourages eating foods in season, which she says helps appreciate that food more (not to mention that the taste of food picked and eaten immediately can't be beat). Eating only in-season food might feel daunting to many of us, but Kingsolver argues that's "only because we've grown accustomed to the botanically outrageous condition of having everything, always."
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