Thursday, February 21, 2008

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

I heard about this book long before I picked it up to read. Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorite fiction authors. I think The Poisonwood Bible is a great read and it is one of my favorite novels of all time. I have been disappointed in the past, though, with fiction authors’ memoirs. I also was not too thrilled with the subject. It did not sound that exciting to me to follow a family as they lived on a farm eating local food for a year.

However, once I started reading this book, it seemed to be on my mind a lot. I wondered if I had ever actually had fresh asparagus. I had no idea there was really only a two-week window for eating it. I found myself mentioning the book to friends, some of whom had already read it. I started thinking a little more about the basic premise behind the book and if it would be feasible to do where I live; that is, could my family eat only items that had been grown or made within a 100-mile radius? I got inspired to think about planting a vegetable garden, although here the planting season does not begin until June.

The Kingsolver-Hopp family consists of the mom, Barbara Kingsolver, her husband, Steven Hopp, and two daughters. Barbara describes their year on the farm while Steven contributes to the book with insights from a biologist’s point-of view. Camille, the oldest daughter, contributes recipes that use their home-grown products and are available at I tried the eggplant papoutzakia, but unfortunately, I was the only one in my family that liked it. I am hoping to try the 30-minute mozzarella recipe. There are some other great recipes in there, but after reading the book I am going to wait until the vegetables and/or fruits are actually in season.

The Kingsolver-Hopp family did not completely eliminate all non-local food from their diet. Each family member got to pick an item they did not want to live without for a year. The choices are telling: coffee, dried fruit, hot chocolate, and spices. They were lucky to live in an area (southern Appalachia) where they were able to grow quite a lot. I think one of the hardest items to forego as a mother would be fresh fruit in the fall, winter and spring, since really not much grows here in Central Oregon. To eat locally it seems you have to pick where you live very carefully. It would be a lot easier to do in California than in climates further north.

I have heard recently that eating locally is the latest food trend. I think I’ll try to at least focus on fruits and vegetables from the Pacific Northwest and in the right season. I highly recommend this book if eating locally is something you are considering, or even if you just want to know what all the fuss is about.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

I just put this one on hold at the library. Can't wait to read it. I'm looking for some inspiration to plant my garden this year.