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.


Dani said...

I felt your review was right on. It was nice "ideally." We only have a farmers market a few months of the year, and it's very small (the one near me, I would have to travel to get to a larger one.) I have actually not read the last half of the book either, as I got through most of it before sloth-guilt hit.

It made me interested in possibly making a garden someday though, and that is a change.

cathy said...

I've almost read this book several times. Sadly, I'm not a Kingsolver fan. I've tried to be, but I have yet to make through one of her books. I might pick this one up, regardless. I think that where I live, eating locally would be very, very hard and extremely limiting. I know that I am not up for that challenge! But, the idea has spurred me on to do as much container gardening as possible during our short summer.

AvidReader said...

Yeah. I've never been a gardener. Growing up it would've been hard to do much realistic gardening. Here in PA it's much easier. But it's not something that I crave doing. We'll see.