Saturday, April 19, 2008

Book Review:Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
Barbara Kingsolver with Steven Hopp and Camille Kingsolver
NY: Harper Collins, 2007
Hardcover: $26.95 370 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-085255-9

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is the story of the author, Barbara Kingsolver’s family’s adventure moving from urban Tucson Arizona to a rural Tennessee farm. The move may be what many Americans might call, extreme but not just because of the geographical location, but because the family’s lifestyle and diet changed from store bought to home grown…radically.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle promotes a return to locally grown seasonal diet to the extreme. The Kingsolver family grew much of their own food and what they didn’t grow they purchased from local farmers.

A few items such as coffee and spices such as cinnamon were obviously not local commodities, so the these scant items the author justified her diversion from the thesis with purchasing necessary items through Earth friendly, employee friendly World focused cooperative programs.

The entire family participated in the experiment adding to their list of family projects, cheese making, and raising chickens for eggs as well as slaughter. I laughed out loud when the author declared she’d slaughter “only the mean ones” for dinner. Clearly, Mrs. Cluck’s personality could extend or shorten her life span, which is more a city folk determination rather than a traditional rural attitude toward subsistence farm/food animals.

Barbara Kingsolver’s husband, a scientist influences the source of the basic premise from which the family makes life changing decisions. The statistics are not overwhelming for the non-scientific reader because Kingsolver puts them within the narrative.

Within the story is another story told by Camille, Kingsolver’s oldest child. Camille offers a young person’s perspective and recipes to adapt to the new life style. Her contributions are set off as side bars.

Kingsolver’s passion for her family and local farm movement as well as the planet as a whole is evident throughout. Her argument is persuasive and many sensible suggestions for a less radical conversion helps the reader relate because the author realizes that an overnight change is quite demanding.

Still the corporatization of farming spearheaded by Monsanto and Dow companies have produced chemically resistant bugs which in turn has doubled the percentage of crop damage from 6% loss in the 1950s to 13% 50 years later. Clearly, the corporate bean counters have fewer beans to count because of their shortsighted decisions of just 40 to 50 years ago.

Return to local food, local water, grow your own, be with your family, create a home around your hearth; these are the directions of which Kingsolver encourages ever reader to strive.

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