I just finished reading the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver.
Why Did I Read it?
I have a strong interest in eating REAL foods, knowing WHAT I am eating, and (most recently) knowing WHERE the food comes from. This book was recommended to me by some fellow “Locavores” (people who strive to eat local foods as much as possible) at a recent meeting.
How Has it Changed My Life?
This has been another life-changing book for me in that it has changed where I buy my food. It has also inspired me to want to grown more of my own foods and to eat seasonally. Last year, I set out to find out what I was eating by learning to read ingredient labels. This book helped me to pay more attention to where the ingredients are coming from. In addition to growing some of our food in our garden, I now shop more often at my local farm stands rather than the grocery store. I feel great knowing that the food from the farm stand was grown locally, it is fresh, it is organic or minimally sprayed, the food does not contain GMO’s, and I am helping the local economy and my local farmers.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is the story of a family of four who move from the arid desert in Tucson, AZ (where virtually all of the food consumed there is imported) to a rural farm in southwestern Virginia (where they will be growing much of their own food). The main reason they moved is because: “we wanted to live in a place that could feed us: where rain falls, crops grow, and drinking water bubbles right up out of the ground.” This book tells the story of the family’s year in which they made every attempt to know the origin of every food they put into their mouths. “Our highest shopping goal was to get our food from so close to home, we’d know the person who grew it. Often that turned out to be us...” The book tells what the family learned, what they ate, and how it changed them by deliberately eating local foods for one year.
What I Learned
This book taught me a great deal about eating seasonally and preserving the harvest. I learned which foods are available at certain times during the year and when those foods should be eaten. It seems so simple, yet our society seems to complicate it. We are used to having access to any food we want any time of the year, but that is not the way nature intended us to eat.
I became more aware of the amount of energy used to transport foods. Here is an interesting fact I learned from this book: “The average food item on a U.S grocery shelf has traveled farther than most families go on their annual vacations.” The storage and transport of foods also compromises its nutrition and flavor. So, why do we still choose to buy flavorless tomatoes from the grocery store that have traveled hundreds of miles when there are fresh-grown tomatoes at the farm stand down the street that are superior in flavor? Personally, I think it is a matter of convenience and price and I am guilty of doing this as well. The grocery story offers everything you could ever possibly want and need all in one place. The farm stand is another stop, and most likely it is more expensive. But this book taught me that it is worth it to take the extra time and spend the extra money to choose the local food.
I think the author is a fabulous writer. I really enjoyed her writing style and found the book to be educational, entertaining, and inspiring and would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in eating locally, seasonally, or just learning more about food. Throughout the book, I also enjoyed reading her teenage daughter’s perspective as well as her husband’s informative sidebars. There are some wonderful recipes included in the book that I am very excited to try! If my family really loves any of them, I will certainly share them! 🙂