Recommended Reading: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
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- 26 May 2016
Now that the heat and humidity have arrived and your family life has shifted into summer mode, the palpable mood calls you to pour a cold drink, find a comfortable spot to sit, and grab a book to take you away.
I recommend Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver. It was first published in 2007, and though it has been a few years since I last read it, it’s as relevant today as it was then, if not a little prophetic. This delightful and wonderfully informative book takes you on a journey with Barbara’s family through their one year commitment to only eat food that they either grew themselves or was grown by someone they knew, with very few exceptions. It’s a story that invites you into Barbara’s kitchen to share great meals, frustrations and lots of laughs.
As Kingsolver tells her story with charming wit, her husband adds sidebars of information on various subjects covered in the narrative. Her daughter Camille adds essays from the perspective of a teenager, giving nutritional information, meal plans and recipes. Their move from Tucson to southern Appalachia, from where her husband hails, was always part of their family’s plan, and was in part, prompted by their need to be able to grow their own food. She says of Tucson, “Virtually every unit of food consumed there moves into town in a refrigerated module from somewhere far away. Every ounce of the city’s drinking, washing and goldfish-bowl-filling water is pumped from a nonrenewable source- a fossil aquifer that is dropping so fast, sometimes the ground crumbles.” The book is filled with many such surprising, and sometimes alarming, facts.
As you spend the year with them, you may find yourself inspired by their commitment and impressed by their creativity and acceptance. You’ll likely find yourself nodding your head, as most gardeners can relate to the challenges and rewards that come with canning, growing and preparing food. The chapters on livestock were the most informative for me – this is where first I learned that there are heirloom varieties of cattle and waterfowl! – and the most funny. Her story of processing the poultry had me laughing out loud.
I highly recommend this book not only for the wonderful information, and the inspiration to make changes in our own kitchens, but also for the terrific way she tells the story. I hope you are able to get through several chapters before life calls you back.