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Green Book Review: Kingsolver

onions in a spring garden

Green Book Review: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver


There should be a warning sticker on the front of this book. I think something to the extent of, “may cause intense inspiration for personal gardening and vocal opinions of our national food systems,” would do the trick. Written by fiction maven Barbara Kingsolver with her husband Steven L. Hopp and eldest daughter Camille Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (www.animalvegetablemiracle.com) is the factual tale of the author and her family moving from parched Arizona to fertile Virginia.
Afterwards, they begin a farm on their land and dedicate themselves to eating only what they can get locally (including what they grow themselves) for a whole year.

With one preteen daughter and another who is college-bound, Barbara finds feeding her family on a local diet challenging but surprising fun at the same time. Barbara’s husband Steven, a college professor, provides some very eye opening and educational (go figure) sidebars about our struggling food system. Then nineteen-year-old Camille finishes each chapter with her own perspective on eating local, along with recipes for each month and what foods are currently available.

It didn’t take me long to see that Barbara’s kids were clearly not addicted to Spaghettio’s or frosted doughnuts, so the change to a local diet wasn’t as difficult as it would be for some other families. Blessed eating habits aside, Camille yearns for fresh fruit often and her younger sister does her best to resist sugary cereal. Even while going on a rare vacation, the Kingsolver’s still find a way to eat local as they drive their hybrid car up the East Coast.

Not long after starting the first chapter, I found myself highlighting intriguing facts and time-testing gardening tips. Vegetarians, vegans and the squeamish might be taken aback by Barbara’s chronicling of the family’s seasonal slaughter of many of their chickens (chapter 14). Though clearly opinionated on the subject of eating animals, it still felt like Barbara had to censor herself a bit when it came to writing this chapter. I didn’t feel at any point that she was putting down those who choose a meat-free life (which used to be me), but she puts forth a solid case for why most humans do eat meat, for better or for worse.

The recipes along make the book worth purchasing, but if you do get down to reading it, it will be nearly impossible to keep your hands out of the dirt. Already curious about growing my own food, along with canning and freezing, I’ve already begun planning my first foray into the world of seeds and weeds. Never owned a hoe? Have exponentially more gardening tools than shoes? This book is for you!


Victoria Everman is a freelance eco-writer, model, yogi, and crafter. She blogs about all of her adventures and creations on her website at http://victoria-e.com

Image: onions in Kingsolver's garden from her site www.animalvegetablemiracle.com

   

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