Julia's Reviews > Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
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Mar 05, 09

bookshelves: foodie-stuff, whole-earth
Read in February, 2009

Living outside of Virginia for the first time in my life, I get nostalgic for it (although I already know I'll miss Utah's mountains when I leave, and that's years away). So it's hard to separate my general love of Barbara Kingsolver's writing with my adoration of the rolling green hills of, for example, Nelson County in July. Which is pretty close to where Kingsolver's family's year of eating locally unfolds. But I'm not sure those feelings need to be separated; part of Kingsolver's point is that many of us have allowed ourselves to forget (or be ignorant of) where our food comes from, and that both eating and living thoughtfully include an awareness of place, and our relationships to it. It's not preachy, though, it's just plain beautiful.

I can imagine that a lot of people DO find the book preachy, but I guess what I would say to them is this: beautiful as this book is, thinking about industrial agriculture, a bottom-line-driven food industry, and our implicit (sometimes even enthusiastic) support of both is really, really challenging. It can be scary, and it can make you feel guilty about buying a bell pepper in February anywhere other than in California. Fear and guilt are okay--they are okay, if not desirable, because we have things to be scared and feel guilty about (plus, she's right...no February bell pepper from CA tastes quite the way a bell pepper from the farmer's market in the middle of summer does). That's where I think the real power of the book comes in--we open ourselves up to experience the joy of food when we allow ourselves to examine all the ways (some small, some big) that we can choose not to have anything to be scared or feel guilty about.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle makes me excited about my farm share this summer, excited to cook, and excited to eat. Nothing quite like reading the writing of someone in touch with their own capacity for joy.
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