Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I just finished reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Mineral this week. It chronicles her family's decision to eat only locally produced food for one year. Instead of heading to the grocery store each week, the family grows their own vegetables, slaughters their own poultry, and frequents the farmer's market. Thanks to freezing, drying and canning produce at harvest time, the family is able to live out the winter on the literal fruits of their labor.
While this isn't the first book I've read along these lines, I did enjoy it. As always, Kingsolver is an excellent writer, and her prose is effortless to read. She includes numerous details about family and farm life that had me rolling on the floor with laughter. For example, her youngest daughter sees the jonquils blooming in the yard and calls them "tranquils."
The passages that kept me glued to this book, though, were the ones about modern farming techniques: the patenting of seeds, the removal of seeds from circulation, the genetic modification of turkeys to prevent breeding, and the poor regulatory controls of commercial beef. If I hadn't already made the choice to eat only grass-fed cattle, pork, and poultry, this book would have caused me to make some major changes. As it is, it was just confirmation that my instincts regarding feeding my family are correct!
As far as detractions go, there were relatively few in this book. I don't think Kingsolver addressed the nutritional aspect of local eating adequately, but her audience may not be aware of (or interested in) the way the USDA has "bought" dietary guidelines in this country. She did get a little preachy on her politics in the book, too, and I thought it would have been better had she left that out. Unfortunately, she is the successful writer, and I am the chick who can't update her blog frequently enough!
Overall score: A