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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year in Food Life

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Star Rating

5 Stars

Appropriate Audience (check all that apply)

Health Professional

Summary & Review of Book

This is a memoir about one family’s resolution to feed themselves for one year largely from their own garden or occasionally with local purchases. The author documents the painstaking work involved to germinate, plant, grow, weed, maintain and finally harvest the bounty of their Virginia farm. As the book moves through the seasons and discusses the details of the ripening crops, the author takes time to address many issues related to agriculture such as industrialized farming and animal husbandry, genetically modified seeds, and the slow food movement. The author’s husband, an environmental studies professor, provides sidebars on issues such as the globalization of the food industry, federal subsidies to farmers and diminishing returns on larger farms. At the end of most chapters, the eldest daughter provides an essay, usually on a nutrition topic, and then describes a weekly meal plan typical of that time of year and harvest, including many recipes.
Kingsolver applies her gift for prose to her love of gardening resulting in a great read for those who appreciate either one. She waxes lyrical over heirloom tomatoes, Italian pumpkins and turkey slaughter. She does a fantastic job of conveying the amount of work involved in an undertaking as large as this and it gives you a sense of what it takes to feed a family for a year. Kingsolver also does a great job at making you keenly aware of the ethical issues involved in the food business from feedlot cattle to family dinners. Though occasionally the book feels a tad bit preachy, since the readers are generally going to already be in the choir, you come out with a thorough understanding of why we need to return to this lifestyle. This is a must-read for all gardeners and eaters.

Categories (check all that apply)

Agriculture and Food Production