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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life Paperback – April 29, 2008
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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Now we're on our second round of children. We are older, tired and we'd moved away from our fertile loamy soil to sand, acidity and bands of marauding white-tailed deer. We hardly gardened the past 3 years.
Then we found this incredible, life altering book. Actually, the book is not incredible. Barbara Kingsolver's lyrical prose, written with wisdom, humor and truth, was able to bring my husband and I back to the path that led to the local farmer's market, a local CSA (community sustainable agriculture)and gardens of our own again. Her words, and those of her daughter and husband, brought us back into the kitchen, they brought us back to the table, together again as family, to prepare and eat meals together, to talk, to be happy and to be relaxed with one another.
We were able to get the book on CD Animal, Vegetable, Miracle CD, and my husband and I listened to it every evening, enraptured with every chapter, every story, every success and every failure. We felt as though we were living through the Kingsolver family's year of local food and living with them. As the story progressed, so changed our family. We started baking bread again with this fun book Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients ordering organic, locally grown and produced meats, poultry, vegetables and fruit from local growers through the West Michigan Food Co-Op and even going together with other friends to order organic grains and legumes in bulk through a local distributor.
I could write forever the ways this book has changed our family, really fundamentally changed the way we think about food, our local farmers, our earth and sustainability and our community. Much of what we learned, we knew already, but in disjointed news-bites and fragmented memories of our young married (gardening) life. "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life" gave us new facts, refreshed old ones and pulled all the information into a beautiful story book, a wonderful primer for living. Thank you to Barbara and her family for showing us the way.
Additional Note: I've purchased copies of the book for my boss, my adult children, siblings and myself since that first copy I read was from the library!
Filled with lots of information on the many ways big corporations have changed the way we consume foods this book was eye opening in many instances and filled with a lot of interesting information on the positives of eating local and or organic foods. I do try to eat organic produce, mostly because of the herbicide issue, but this book made me aware of many other valid reasons for making this choice.
So the question is why only a 3 star rating?
Well Ms. Kingsolver can sound awful preachy sometimes. There is almost a smugness to her tone in describing her life choices. While I think growing your own food sounds pretty interesting, I doubt most of us have a farm waiting for us to move to, or that many of us can afford to just pull up roots, since we often have homes and jobs and don't write books for a living. Also as much as buying locally sounds good, especially in a farming community, there are not always that many choices available. I know of one farmer's market in my area and it is only open from late spring through fall. I also don't can my own goods, bake my own breads, dig, plant, hoe, weed or reap my crops. I don't have a greenhouse or root cellar, don't raise chickens and turkeys. So while the overall concept may be interesting for many people it is often impractical. Also there is never much mention of just how back breaking farm work can be.
I also found the waxing rhapsodic over the tobacco farmers of Virginia and the loss of their most profitable crops offputting. It seemed a bit incongruous within the theme of most of the book. So although I did learn quite a bit and I do plan to try and eat more locally produced food I think I could have come to this decision without being made to feel that most of my lifestyle is somehow invalid.