Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
I finally finished this book! I read the first half very gung-ho for Kingsolver and her ideas. But I think what she is suggesting can get overwhelming. So, I put down Animal, Vegetable, Miracle for the summer. But, with a few spare days I picked it back up and plowed through to the end.
I think that Kingsolver's book, which is her family's diary of a year eating only locally produced food - much of it by the immediate family, is funny and really interesting. I learned a lot about what grows where and when. I learned way more than I needed to know about turkey reproduction. And I have a much better sense of the slow food and locavore movements. If nothing else, I'm heartened by the fact that so many people are trying to improve the health of our world. And, with a well-known author like Kingsolver writing about how to actually make positive changes I have faith that more and more people will start to adjust their own lifestyles.
On the other hand, Kingsolver and her husband can get a bit preachy. Having a farm in Virginia, working as a writer has given them the possibility of truly living off the land. Most Americans cannot realistically do that. Steven Hopp, Kingsolver's husband, in his short monologues which are interspersed through the book, does address how the average citizen can move in the direction of more locally produced food without actually giving up everything in a grocery store nor spending hours all summer weeding and gardening. But, I still felt overwhelmed while reading.
This book would make a great "weekly devotional" type reading. I find myself getting enthusiastic to go to the Farmer's market, buy a bushel of tomatoes and can all my own sauce. That enthusiasm lasts for a week or two and then it's just too easy to fall back into routine and habit. After all, the $3 jar of store bought sauce is tasty. I wonder if I could maintain my enthusiasm if I read bits and pieces of the book regularly rather than reading it all at once.
I would like to think I will use Animal, Vegetable, Miracle as a baseline to start to eat healthier and pay more attention to what I eat. I have gone to the farmer's market much more regularly this summer than in the past. I have paid more attention to what produce at the grocery store is local. But, I'm not ready to till up my back yard and plan rows of zucchini and winter squash. Maybe one day, but for now I'll just leave Kingsolver on my shelf as a reminder.