Barbara Kingsolver’s new book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, was both refreshing and inspiring! I really enjoyed listening to this audio book, read by Kingsolver herself, which also included an interview with her. With her usual humor and intelligence, she recounts the story of the year her family spent growing most of their own food, and purchasing the rest only from local sources. It was a family project, after moving from Arizona back to their property in southern Appalachia, and the book is co-authored by her husband and oldest daughter. In taking on this project, the family was committed to this simple concept: “The way we eat determines how we use the world.”
The things you purchase are your way of weighing in on how the world gets used, and food is probably the only thing you regularly purchase three times a day–purchase or procure… It is one of the most significant ways that we have an impact on our environment, either negative or positive. That’s why we thought it was it was important enough to pay attention to and write a book about.
I found this to be an incredibly informative book. Along with Kingsolver’s enjoyable narrative, Steven L. Hopp, her husband, wrote numerous, very interesting sidebars about the economics and politics of food production and delivery. Her daughter, Camille, wrote about the family’s experience from a young adult point of view and also discussed menu planning and recipes. Younger daughter, Lily, was ever-present, although too young to sign a book contract and be considered co-author.
I learned a lot from this book without feeling that Kingsolver was being either pedantic or fanatical. It was a story infused with common sense and hope! She graciously guides you through that year of growth and learning for her family, and was very honest about their decision to “exercise some control over which economy we would support.” She shares her belief that we can all make a difference in the world, and her suggestions for small steps we can each take to make a difference were caring and sensitive to the different circumstances, feelings, and beliefs of her readers.
Where do you start? She suggests that you “become more aware of where your food comes from and more aware of your daily food decisions” as a beginning. She shares with you the steps her family took in their organized attempt to make a positive impact through their own food decisions that year. Then she encourages you to take some small steps that are right for you:
Small changes have enormous impacts and small steps in a particular direction enable more steps for yourself and others. So anything you do in a direction that feels sensible, that feels sustainable to you, it is a step that you should honor…