Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I wrote the review below two years ago when I first listened to Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. This week, as we criss cross the state, Artie is joining me as I listen to the book again. So far we’ve listened to about 3 hours and it is just as good, if not better, than I remembered. As evidenced by the review below, I’m a huge fan of this book and would put it at the top of a list of great summer reads for anyone interested in food.

Okay, so technically I’m not reading this book, I’m listening to it. Regardless of the delivery mechanism, I am ingesting every morsel of this tasty read and every serving leaves me hungry for more. So far I’ve listened to about five hours of this 14-1/2 hour audiobook. The 2007 book by Barbara Kingsolver, Steven L. Hopp, and Camille Kingsolver is part memoir and part journalistic investigation. The book tells the story of how one family spent a year deliberately eating only locally produced food. The writing is engaging and, at times, almost conversational in a way that draws the reader and/or listener into the story. In addition to talking about the family garden, feeding a party crowd with only locally produced food, and the joys of eating freshly cut asparagus, the book outlines real problems related to our food, including the controversy over genetically modified foods, greedy seed companies, the problem of food distribution, and the extinction of the local farmer in favor of large, subsidized, commodity crops. The sidebars by Hopp provide information about numerous topics that are interesting to me, including the cycle of poverty and hunger, where he gives a shout out to Heifer Project International – yeah! I know my review isn’t doing justice to this wonderful book. Let me conclude by saying that this book is interesting, engaging, and thought-provoking. Although I consider myself a person who is conscious about the size of my carbon footprint, and the quality of my (mostly vegetarian) food, this book has prodded me to think more closely about seeking out fresh, local produce. Although Artie and I already travel to Bainbridge on a regular basis to raid the in-laws garden, there are still many foods that we eat that travel a long distance, and are therefore heavy laden with oil. Not literally laden with oil, but lots of oil went into producing and transporting the food. For what? The convenience of out-of-season, watery tomatoes? Tomatoes that were bred for uniform size and disease resistance, perhaps to the detriment of their flavor? This book has asked me to consider whether I am willing to seek out local, seasonal flavors, and reduce the amount of oil in my food. Whether I am willing to pay a little bit more to make sure that the family farmer doesn’t become a thing of the past, relegated to the pages of children’s book and folk lore. More to come as I progress through this juicy read. Pun intended.

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