Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life Epub

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life Bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver returns with her first nonfiction narrative that will open your eyes in a hundred new ways to an old truth You are what you eat As the US population made an unprecedented mad dash for the Sun Belt, one carload of us paddled against the tide, heading for the Promised Land where water falls from the sky and green stuff grows all around We were about to begin the adventure of realigning our lives with our food chain Naturally, our first stop was to buy junk food and fossil fuel Hang on for the ride With characteristic poetry and pluck, Barbara Kingsolver and her family sweep readers along on their journey away from the industrial food pipeline to a rural life in which they vow to buy only food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it Their good hud search yields surprising discoveries about turkey sex life and overly zealous zucchini plants, en route to a food culture that s better for the neighborhood and also better on the table Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle makes a passionate case for putting the kitchen back at the center of family life and diversified farms at the center of the American diet This is the story of a year in which we made every attempt to feed ourselves animals and vegetables whose provenance we really knew and of how our family was changed by our first year of deliberately eating food produced from the same place where we worked, went to school, loved our neighbors, drank the water, and breathed the air This books is not AT ALL in my normal wheelhouse, and I m still scratching my head as to why I suddenly felt impelled to order it onand read it It s non fiction, which, nothing against non fiction, but again, not a genre I normally go out and buy I might read non fiction if it s a gift, or library book freebie, or it s our book club monthly read, but otherwise, not very likely.Also it s a whole book about the author s family s year long culinary adventure of eating exclusively natural This books is not AT ALL in my normal wheelhouse, and I m still scratching my head as to why I suddenly felt impelled to order it onand read it It s non fiction, which, nothing against non fiction, but again, not a genre I normally go out and buy I might read non fiction if it s a gift, or library book freebie, or it s our book club monthly read, but otherwise, not very likely.Also it s a whole book about the author s family s year long culinary adventure of eating exclusively natural and organic foods, and , eating ONLY locally grown or raised foods, eschewing the imported, the canned and preserved unless done by the family itself or some local business , anything shipped long distance all those fossil fuels Which, yay for that, but do I really want to read a whole book about that But someone I think in the aforementioned book club thought this book was fantastic and highly recommended it, and I really loved Barbara Kingsolver s novels The Poisonwood Bible and The Bean Trees, so in a moment of madness I clicked over toand bought this book a used copy I m not that mad.So here was my takeaway I applaud this family s determination to stick exclusively with local organic foodstuffs only for a year They did allow themselves a few exceptions as well, like coffee, dried fruit, grains, etc., on the condition we d learn how to purchase it through a channel most beneficial to the grower and the land where it grows Even though I m not remotely tempted to try it myself, it did encourage me to beaware of what s healthy and what s not, and to try to eatfresh fruit and veggies even if they re imported from distant lands like California or Florida My favorite parts were some of Kingsolver s charming stories of their culinary adventures, especially those involving goats and chicks and turkeys Also turkey sex or lack thereof hah There are some interesting organic recipes interspersed throughout the book, though I found them somewhat daunting and or dubious from the standpoint of would my family really eat this or would there be an uprising against Mom Maybe I ll try some of them sometime.There s also a lot of scary discussion of GM foods, lack of genetic diversity, hybridization, and other worrisome trends and potential ecological disasters For some readers this will be fascinating stuff I lost interest in the book about halfway through I did get a chuckle out of the defensive tone of the part where Kingsolver was explaining why their family isn t vegetarian Eating meat is okay as long as it s organic and doesn t come from stockyards or other inhumane conditions Here again I have to applaud her family s commitment they slaughter and prepare their own chickens and turkeys for the dinner table.I think 350 plus pages was a bit much for this story, at least for my interest level in it There s a preachy, didactic tone to the writing that infuses too much of the book and got really tiresome after a while Still, it has a worthwhile message, and we could all benefit from doing a little better in this department And now I think I need to go find a local food stand and buy some fresh peaches and corn on the cob I do not want to have lunch with Barbara Kingsolver I do not want to sit across the table from this self satisfied woman and have her gently scold me for eating imported world traveler foods, like bananas I also do not want to hear anyof her stories about how awesome she and her family are, and how they were able to eat primarily off what they could grow in their backyard, plenty of fresh vegetables or buy from local farmers who are all personal friends, anyway Aren t we cool I I do not want to have lunch with Barbara Kingsolver I do not want to sit across the table from this self satisfied woman and have her gently scold me for eating imported world traveler foods, like bananas I also do not want to hear anyof her stories about how awesome she and her family are, and how they were able to eat primarily off what they could grow in their backyard, plenty of fresh vegetables or buy from local farmers who are all personal friends, anyway Aren t we cool I don t want to hear anyabout how her family is doing their part to stop global warming by reducing food processing and transportation costs, and now they all managed to do it without fighting Who are these people Everybody gets home from work or school and has to go garden until dark every freaking day, and there s no fighting There s no salmon, or packaged cookies, or Cheetos, and there s still no fighting Even though some members of the family are 17 and, like, 10 What I wanted most of all was to hear the stories about how she caught her daughter hiding Little Debbie under the bed, or how her teenager was too embarrassed to bring her friends over without soda to offer them But nooooo No such humanizing details Some small bumps in the road, such as when the teenager craves fresh fruit in early spring, but none is in season But a ha easily solved, with rhubarb from the farmer s market Give me a break This is cheating the readers It had to have beeninteresting than this But, that aside, it actually was pretty interesting She s a wonderful writer, and much of the information and storytelling was totally fascinating I will be thinking about this book for a long time, and it really has inspired me to payattention to local growing seasons, although in California I guess we re a little spoiled, and doshopping at farmer s markets, and cook , and perhaps even grow my own tomatoesheirloom, of course I just don t want to hang out with Barbara Kingsolver Ever Unless she s prepared to talk about what really went down This book was one of my big disappointments so far this year, because I went in thinking I d really like it and wound up so unimpressed that I think I actually hated it The premise of the book is an interesting one, so interesting that I called my mother on the way back from the bookstore to tell her all about this new book I just picked up that I thought she d really like Barbara Kingsolver and her family have decided, for various environmental, political, and health reasons, to eat locally f This book was one of my big disappointments so far this year, because I went in thinking I d really like it and wound up so unimpressed that I think I actually hated it The premise of the book is an interesting one, so interesting that I called my mother on the way back from the bookstore to tell her all about this new book I just picked up that I thought she d really like Barbara Kingsolver and her family have decided, for various environmental, political, and health reasons, to eat locally for a year and try and raise as much of their own produce and meat as they deemed feasible.Kingsolver is a good writer and I ve enjoyed Animal Dreams and The Bean Trees, so I assumed I would enjoy her adecdotes about her family s efforts to grow their own food supply What I ended up with was an essayist trying relentlessly to convert me over to her point of view America is bad, cooking your own food is good, be ashamed of your horrible non food cooking empty life I m exaggerating a little bit but not much Over and over again Kingsolver relates large scale problems in America crime addiction today to the fact that we no longer live close to our own food supplies She has some valid points, but the holier than thou attitude ended up annoying me so much I couldn t make myself receptive to her message, and instead devoted myself to picking apart her examples Also, it felt like there was a subtle sexism going on with regard to a woman s place in the home Her husband may have made all the bread in their household but Kingsolver and her daughters were portrayed as doing most of the labor and cooking, and as one point she talks about the deep contentment she gets out of Thanksgiving, all the women in the kitchen working and gossiping together as they cook, all the men outside pretending they can throw around a pigskin I think my favorite one, though, was when she said that women going into the workplace in the mid 20th Century was the reason why America s food culture devolved There was this sense that, wow, America had just been so much better a hundred years ago, gosh, why can t we all just get back to that.My new goal is go get everyone to read this book and find out if they hate it as much as I did Barbara Kingsolver has long been one of my favorite writers, but this most recent book was a bit of a mixed bag for me The book covers the year she and her family spent eating only food they had either grown themselves or purchased from local farmers personally known to them Kingsolver s skill as a storyteller is undiminished, and there are some wonderful sections as she relates their adventures plotting how to foist some of their bumper zucchini harvest off on unsuspecting neighbors and how t Barbara Kingsolver has long been one of my favorite writers, but this most recent book was a bit of a mixed bag for me The book covers the year she and her family spent eating only food they had either grown themselves or purchased from local farmers personally known to them Kingsolver s skill as a storyteller is undiminished, and there are some wonderful sections as she relates their adventures plotting how to foist some of their bumper zucchini harvest off on unsuspecting neighbors and how they helped their new turkey crop re learn the lost art of natural copulation The book also succeeded in teaching me quite a bit I didn t know about food and gardening As someone who was raised on heavily processed foods, I was fascinated to learn the biological secrets of root vegetables, how a mild mannered novelist harvests chickens at home, and how much better food can taste when it hasn t been subject to the rigors of corporate food production Her chapter on asparagus helped me understand why the tough, road hardened variety found in most conventional stores is only a pale shadow of an organically grown stalk picked just hours earlier her description of the succulent magic of ls made me want to take up mushroom hunting In these celebrations of the pleasures of fresh, locally grown, in season produce, Kingsolver was very effective in inspiring me to thinkabout how to plan my menus around what is seasonally available I ll be adding her sweet potato quesadilla recipe to my menu this week, and I m looking forward to trying out her dried tomato pesto On the down side, Ms Kingsolver s charming storytelling is laced with a rather heavy dose of preaching I have no doubt that the food monoculture promoted by corporate America has had devastating effects on our health, taste buds, and environment, and the loss of crop diversity these practices have created has made us very vulnerable as a population These are important issues that need to be talked about But part of the reason I ve admired Ms Kingsolver s past writing is because she has always woven her political views so seamlessly into her stories that, in reading her books, I always learned new things without feeling like I had been force fed someone else s opinions That was not the case with this book The first quarter is particularly thick with commentary on the evils of our current food system More than once, I found myself slogging through sections that left me feelingguilty about the food currently in my kitchen than inspired to adopt her suggestions This tone made the read much less effective for me than it would have been had she focused primarily on the very real value her family gained from choosing to forgo convenience in favor of such fantastically delicious food

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *