Monday, June 4, 2007

Book review: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I'm a big Barbara Kingsolver fan. I've read just about everything she's published, and enjoyed almost all of it. Her writing style is rich, and she is capable of invoking memories that I didn't realize I had.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a non-fictional account of her family's experience with a self-imposed year of "locavore"-ism. Kingsolver is both a gardener and an environmentalist; the combination of those passions lead her to consider her "carbon footprint" for her eating behavior. How much fossil fuel is used to ship California strawberries across the US in January? How much damage did pesticides do to the land used to raise the wheat in our bread? Is it possible to be self-sufficient from a local produce perspective?

She and her family spend and entire year eating either produce (vegetable and animal) from their own farm, or from other local farms, hence "locavore-ism". Her chapters take you through the harvest seasons, and encourage you to return to the natural seasonality of produce (ie only eating brussel sprouts in the fall, fresh berries in the summer).

Kingsolver flirts with getting preachy, and I do wonder how I will ever enjoy a winter strawberry again. But her main point is that if we all did a little more local food (ie farmer's market) purchasing, we would not only support our local farmers, but we would reduce our fossil fuel consumption significantly. It's a worthy goal.

Overall, an enjoyable read, but mostly because I'm obsessed with gardening. Michael Pollan wrote a book with an overlapping theme called The Omnivore's Dilemma, which I found fascinating. For non-gardeners, I'd start there.


TBTAM said...

Loved her book Prodigal Summer, such a wonderful mix of nature and great story-writing.

MarlaQuack said...

I've never heard of her, but will look her up. About 25 years ago my parents got involved in macrobiotics. I'd never even consider going there, however one thing they pushed was only local foods when in season. I became much more aware of the local farmers markets and use them as much as possible now. I was reminded of this last winter when no spinach was available because it was all shipped from large growers.

Steph said...

Just found your blog via Snickollet's blog!

I too enjoyed Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle as I too am a big gardening fan, as well as a longtime fan of Kingsolver's.

Avidly making my way through your archives...