Sunday, December 20, 2009

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

Did you know that turkeys have sex? Frankly, I hadn't given this much, actually any thought until the second to last chapter in Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. So yes, turkeys do have sex. And Kingsolver watched and documented this in case you never have the chance nor desire.

This book isn't your typical page turner, as was The Poisonwood Bible, which I read cover to cover on a flight from Narita to SFO several years ago. But it was an absolutely fascinating read and included recipes, too! Click here for the recipes, some of which sound incredible.

Essentially, it's a review of the food supply chain during a year in Virginia's Appalachian mountains as experienced by the Kingsolver Hopp family. They move from Arizona to a rural farm and challenge themselves to a year as locavores. Kingsolver is one of my favorite novelists and this book is hilarious at times. She writes of her 8-year-old daughter's egg selling business, how they disguise zucchini in chocolate chip cookies, and how her husband bakes their daily bread. Because of this book I am going to try to make cheese. Yes, really. I now have a cheese making kit. My husband is a little freaked out by this but I've promised him I won't quit my day job. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Kingsolver's writing is colorful and memorable albeit preachy in this book. There is a smugness to her tone that does not exist in her fiction. You can read this book and feel good about your eating habits or feel really, really bad. Kingsolver presents a compelling case for trying as much as possible to buy food that is locally and/or organically grown.

The parts about how corporate agribusiness has changed the way Americans eat are quite unsettling. She reminds us that with a small amount of gardening space anyone, can raise some of their own food. I was sad to read how so many varieties of grains, vegetables, and even poultry are virtually obsolete, pushed out of the picture by types favored by big business.

In California we are blessed with easy and year-round availability of organic produce. One more thing to be thankful for.

1 comment:

Polka Dot Moon said...

I'm intrigued and will be checking out this book.

Can't wait to hear how the "cheese" turns out!