Jul 18, 2008

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

A Year of Food Life
by Barbara Kingsolver

I loved this book. By the time I finished reading it, my husband wearily said "I know how you feel now when I talk about football or politics." He loves eating, but has no interest in knowing how the food is grown, so he had to tell me to stop talking about Kingsolver and gardening! Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is based on a year when the Kingsolvers returned to live on a family farm and vowed to only eat what they could grow themselves or buy locally. They had a large vegetable garden, raised chicken and turkeys, and gathered from the farm's fruit trees and wild mushrooms on the hillsides. The author's family members made contributions both in the book's writing and in providing for the family table (her husband baked bread, her daughter raised the chickens). There is a lot of focus on eating foods in season and supporting local, renewable and organic agriculture, and information on why processed foods and large corporate farming methods are bad news.

This book really inspired me to do more with my garden. My daughter and I just picked our first zucchini and made zucchini chocolate chip cookies with the recipe in this book. I learned a lot from Kingsolver: how to know what produce is in season (duh!), how asparagus and peanuts grow, why organic and heirloom produce (and livestock) are healthier, the mysteries of natural turkey reproduction, and much more. Least you feel overwhelmed at how much her family did to be self-sustaining, remember a few things: before beginning the experiment, they spent a whole year learning about their community, finding where to buy local produce and meats, and researching what was on the supermarket shelves. Even Kingsolver had her limits. Yes, her family made their own soft cheese, sausages, yogurt, bread and pesto, and took the poultry from yard to freezer. But other items possible to make at home they continued to buy: pasta, vinegar, hard cheese, apple cider, mayonnaise. They avoided exotic imports like bananas, but still bought some spices and seafood that was shipped from far away. And if you don't have space or time to garden, there's lots of tips on little things to do for eating better and supporting local growers. Fabulous!

Rating: 5/5 ........ 370 pages, 2007

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13 comments:

bethany said...

oh, this was a great book!! I loved all the info, recipes, and needed hints. such a great, informative read :)

Laura said...

My older sister has a very nice garden, as well as fruit trees. I think this would maybe be a perfect gift for her! Great review!

Gentle Reader said...

I loved this book, too. I liked the recipes, and I liked the stuff that her husband wrote about, too. And she inspired me to do more to our garden this year, too. Though I have to say that I have more tomatoes at the moment than I know what to do with, though I'm planning to make sauce!

Lauren said...

Wow! A 5/5! Must be a great book.

writer2b said...

I've never seen a review of this book that wasn't enthusiastic. Maybe I'll pick up a copy on my next library trip!

Bybee said...

I'm looking forward to finding/reading this book! I like Kingsolver's writing style a lot.

Nyssaneala said...

I'm so glad you liked it! I raved to my hubby about it earlier this year.

Nyssaneala said...

Oh, and if you're trying her recipes, we really liked the spinach lasagna and strawberry rhubarb crumble. I'll have to try the cookies.

Trish said...

When I was little and we lived in a more moderate climate, my mom did a lot of her own growing. Just stepping outside and wanting to die of heat exhaustion (did I just say wanting?), makes it difficult for me to imagine having my own garden in the Texas heat. The strawberry rhubarb crumble Nyssaneala mentioned above sounds *delicious*! I fondly remember strawberry rhubarb pie from when I was little.

Stephanie said...

It seems like this book is a popular one around the blogsphere and can't wait to crack the spine on the one I recently got!

Jeane said...

I love strawberry rhubarb anything! My mother always grew rhubarb. I am already planning to establish a rhubarb patch and strawberry patch next year.

ta said...

I thought this was great, too. It makes me happy that we have our garden again. I don't think we're up to canning this year, but hopefully we'll do it again soon. It's interesting to see what people's limits are. My son eats avocados and bananas every other day. I can't imagine how he'd survive without them. On the flip side, we don't have to worry about getting fresh cranberries. We'll have to try the zucchini chocolate chip cookies. I guess chocolate would be another one of our families exceptions!

Sam said...

My ex boyfriend recently started making and canning his own preserves, and he's gotten me fascinated with things like this. I NEED to pick this book up.