Barbara Kingsolver and her family chose to live and document their challenge to live a year on locally produced foods, either from their own modest farm or their surrounding farms. I initially listened to the first half of the book as an audiobook which I normally enjoy. But for Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – A Year of Food Life I didn’t like it. Barbara Kingsolver may be a great story teller, but I found her voice to be just shy of whiny. Maybe I spend too much time around toddlers, but I had a hard time listening to the book.
Once I got ahold of a hard copy, I breezed through the book. The premise is very interesting to me. I live as a vegetarian due to the environmental impact of a meat based diet. The idea that eating a banana in the middle of the winter is more destructive that eating meat intrigued me. I can’t say that I fully subscribe to the idea of eating locally as a sustainable diet, but this book made me think about the produce that I purchase on a regular basis. I’ve also started paying attention to the flavor of fruits and vegetables when they’re in season versus out. Before reading this book, I already dabbled in homemade items like sauerkraut, sourdough bread, and kombucha, but after reading I successfully made my own mozzarella cheese. While daunting and hot, I did feel a weird pleasure eating cheese I made from scratch. Although, to be honest I didn’t think it tasted better and the cost of the milk plus cheese products didn’t make it cheaper to make.
Kingsolver really let the reader into her farm and family. She has her oldest daughter and husband write excerpts in the book based on their experiences and findings which add to the depth of this family experiment. Overall, I enjoyed the facts of the book and many of the side stories of other farmers and locavores, but I found myself getting bored with some of the details.
Overall, this was an interesting read and would recommend for its insight into our food system as well as the storytelling.
Read Decemeber 2014.