Lit Review: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

I’m probably one of the last one of my friends to read this one. When it was first published, my hipster-foodie friends gushed…Kingsolver was brilliant….there should be a national movement. Everyone should read this book. This naturally led to a discussion of the behavior of each of their crops over the past week. Sarah was going to have tomatoes any day now, and Margaret had an over-abundance of peppers.

It wasn’t that I didn’t think the acolytes weren’t right. I just didn’t really care much for the smug, greener-than-thou attitude that came along with it.  And the worshipping of what is, essentially, a well-documented stunt.

I wouldn’t recommend it to those who are new to the idea of eating locally.  There’s not much here for a how to get started, or integrate her ideas for yourself. The life described in these pages is a lofty goal from your average locavore perspective.  Kingsolver and her family had the opportunity to make this sort of commitment, and have the knowledge to be successful. Kingsolver mentions that she grew up on a farm, learned how to hunt mushrooms from her father, and had backyard gardens for years. The land, complete with turn-of-the-century farmhouse, was inherited and waiting to be used.  I think that it gives the impression to eat locally, you have to move halfway across a country and start your own farm, bake your own bread, and make your own cheese.

Needless to say, I didn’t go in with high expectations—even as someone batting on the same environmental team as Kingsolver. But somewhere in the middle, I found myself liking the book. There was a warmth and charm in reading about the vegetables as they came up, and I found myself remembering childhood summers that involved shucking corn and shelling peas in the summer.  The part about animal husbandry made me chuckle. I found myself missing the Durham farmer’s market, my CSA box, acorn squash, and my friend Anne’s garden tales and strawberry jam.

Finally, it made me glad that spring is here and asparagus is, once again, in season.

I’d also like to try to make cheese.

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