I do not want to have lunch with Barbara Kingsolver I do not want to sit across the table from this self satisfied woman and have her e Barbara Kingsolver has long been one of my favorite writers but this most recent book was a bit of a mixed bag for me The book covers the year she and her family spent eating only food they had either Back to the Breast: Natural Motherhood and Breastfeeding in America grown themselves or purchased from local farmers personally known to them Kingsolver s skill as a storyteller is undiminished and there are some wonderful sections as she relates their adventures plotting how to foist some of their bumper zucchini harvest off on unsuspecting neighbors and how they helped their new turkey crop re learn the lost art of natural copulation The book also succeeded in teaching me uite a bit I didn t know about food andardening As someone who was raised on heavily processed foods I was fascinated to learn the biological secrets of root vegetables how a mild mannered novelist harvests chickens at home and how much better food can taste when it hasn t been subject to the rigors of corporate food production Her chapter on asparagus helped me understand why the tough road hardened variety found in most conventional stores is only a pale shadow of an organically At Stake: Monsters and the Rhetoric of Fear in Public Culture grown stalk picked just hours earlier her description of the succulent magic of ls made me want to take up mushroom hunting In these celebrations of the pleasures of fresh locallyrown in season produce Kingsolver was very effective in inspiring me to think about how to plan my menus around what is seasonally available I ll be adding her sweet potato uesadilla recipe to my menu this week and I m looking forward to trying out her dried tomato pesto On the down side Ms Kingsolver s charming storytelling is laced with a rather heavy dose of preaching I have no doubt that the food monoculture promoted by corporate America has had devastating effects on our health taste buds and environment and the loss of crop diversity these practices have created has made us very vulnerable as a population These are important issues that need to be talked about But part of the reason I ve admired Ms Kingsolver s past writing is because she has always woven her political views so seamlessly into her stories that in reading her books I always learned new things without feeling like I had been force fed someone else s opinions That was not the case with this book The first uarter is particularly thick with commentary on the evils of our current food system More than once I found myself slogging through sections that left me feeling Black Nationalism: The Search for an Identity guilty about the food currently in my kitchen than inspired to adopt her suggestions This tone made the read much less effective for me than it would have been had she focused primarily on the very real value her familyained from choosing to forgo convenience in favor of such fantastically delicious food Dear Barbara KingsolverI m very sorry but I m abandoning my attempt to read your book Animal Vegetable Miracle which chronicles the year your family spent living on your farm in Virginia attempting to eat only local sustainable foodI adore your novels And I loved Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore s Dilemma They even made me stop eating fast food buy organic when I can and Black and White Strangers: Race and American Literary Realism give up most meatI wanted to love your book I settled in as you scolded me for eating produce that is flown from halfway around the world You re right I know It makes no sense And then you said if I could only taste fresh vegetables straight from the vine I couldn t stand my bland Stop Shop tomato It s true It doesn t taste thatood Tell me It s all very interestingThen four chapters later you were still scolding meBarbara I would love to harvest #wild asparagus in the early mornings but I do not have #asparagus in the early mornings but I do not have family farm or a book contract to retreat to All the CSAs near me are sold out for years I know I m a moral failure because the bananas I have for breakfast come from South America I will patronize my local vegetable stand because of reading your four chapters Can you stop yelling at me nowPlease oh please write another novelSarah I read this Then I Boggs: A Comedy of Values gave it my sister then sheave it to a friend Where it went from then I don t know but I am reasonably confident that this book was of no practical use to any of usI m tempted to say that everybody is haunted by the dream of the Blood Runs Green: The Murder That Transfixed Gilded Age Chicago good life when your eyeslaze over and you dream of escaping trouble and woe for a better way of living but I m probably just projecting my own state of mind here Certainly though I can sympathise with the position that Barbara Kingsolver found herself in that starts this book offShe was living in some part of the USA where the population was way in excess of local water resources so the municipality had water brought in by canal which it advised the local population was safe to drink but not safe to put into auariums This experience put the seal on Kingsolver s concerns over food miles and the unease that comes from living in an arid environment with food and water brought into what was a desert ecosystem rather than the population living in a sustainable environment in the first place this sustainable environment in the first place This point of which I m reminded whenever I see asparagus air freighted into the UK that was Berlioz and the Romantic Century grown in arid semi desert regions of Peru of realising that the logic of capitalism produces illogical and environmentally unsustainable outcomes is something that many readers can recognise but Kingsolver s response while interesting is one that few will be able to emulateWhat Barbara Kingsolver did was to undertake a uest to live for a year on food either produced by herself or sourced very locally Here we are on what could be for many commonround However what this means in practise for her is moving her family to another state where she has a large house with extensive Building Ideas: An Architectural Guide to the University of Chicago grounds These she has landscaped using digging machines to carve out a system of terraces This provides land enough not only torow vegetables but also to raise turkeys and money enough to pay for this as well as basic vegetables from Farmers Markets So this is a very personal response not a manifesto it is not suitable to become a call to arms While I like what she and her family did the lifestyle they adopt reflects their circumstances including an independent income as well as a nearby Farmers market that supplies basic foodstuffsThis book provides no model for the ood life but nor does it aspire to do so As laid. Author Barbara Kingsolver and her family abandoned the industrial food pipeline to live a rural life vowing that for one year they'd on.
Barbara Kingsolver Û 5 charactersNvinced the people she most needs I wanted her to stop meandering stop arguing every counter argument and stick to her narrative nonfiction story and its strongest argument how a renewed connection to food transformed her family and their relationship with the community By purchasing your neighbors food you can help with the fossil fuel problem AND keep their farm in business Small yet significant estures such as buying butter from the same family in your area keeps them in business and it is a huge step in the right direction And since many Americans feel helpless this book could show them how to help and that s a big wondeful adjustment in a culture where and people feel left out and powerless This plan will only work if people et on board and if we find a way to help Arizona And YES by eating this kind of food many have lost weight and become heart healthy and all of that is ood But instead of shrilling tell by showing One Touch of Scandal girlfriend Like many narrative nonfiction books on the market today the ones people in the publishing business call idea books Kingsolver s narrator tries too hard steps into her self made traps There s so much I should love about this book and I hope some other author takes up this subject again andives it a Bulletproof Feathers good try I d certainly buy it You have to read this book Not just because it conveys an important message about the sustainability and environmental impact of our foodways Not just because its Year in Provence style charm makes Appalachia sound as alluring as the French or Italian countryside no euros reuired But mostly because this is beautiful tightly strung writing about food and what it means to nourish ourselves If you ve read a certain amount of writing on food you know sweet and delicious though it may be that it canet cloying A uick flip through Barbara s chapter on turkey butchering will cure youIn case you ve had your head in the sand or don t live in the Bay Area or somewhere like it here s the book s basic premise Novelist Barbara Kingsolver and her professor husband pack up their two daughters and move from the New Mexican desert to a small farm in Virginia where it rains and things row and after a bit of a weaning process that involves hard decisions about bananas undertake a year of eating nothing but locally produced food It s a lot of hard work since they re doing most of the local production themselves They make cheese and cook pumpkins and OD on asparagus They have slaughtering parties They come up with seasonal menus and recipes and share them with youThere s some sound political analysis of why and how our food chain has become a fossil fuel eating monster that disserves developing economies around the world while eroding our health here at home There s some preaching oh well There s a careful explanation of why and under what circumstances raising animals to eat them can be the best use of the planet s resources There s a chick hatching scene that will make you weep I still can t keep my beloved husband from buying huge flats of Costco fruit rown halfway around the world and I m not iving up Italian truffles or French cheese or wine any time soon So I can t be smug But right now I have a big pot of soup simmering on the stove full of veggies from our local community supported agriculture box and I feel like we re living a #little bit This is not AT ALL in my normal wheelhouse and I m #bit This books is not AT ALL in my normal wheelhouse and I m scratching my head as to why I suddenly felt impelled to order it on and read it It s non fiction which nothing against non fiction but again not a enre I normally Chameleon Hours go out and buy I might read non fiction if it s aift or library bookfreebie or it s our book club monthly read but otherwise not very likelyAlso it s a whole book about the author s family s year long culinary adventure of eating exclusively
and organic and eating ONLY locally Chicago Architecture (Architecture Urbanism) grown or raised foods eschewing the imported the canned and preserved unless done by the family itself or some local business anything shipped long distance all those fossil fuels Which yay for that but do I really want to read a whole book about thatBut someone I think in the aforementioned book club thought this book was fantastic and highly recommended it and I really loved Barbara Kingsolver s novels The Poisonwood Bible and The Bean Trees so in a moment of madness I clicked over to and bought this book a used copy I m not that madSo here was my takeaway I applaud this family s determination to stick exclusively with local organic foodstuffs only for a year They did allow themselves a few exceptions as well like coffee dried fruitrains etc on the condition we d learn how to purchase it through a channel most beneficial to the Chicago Neighborhoods and Suburbs: A Historical Guide grower and the land where itrows Even though I m not remotely tempted to try it myself it did encourage me to be aware of what s healthy and what s not and to try to eat fresh fruit and veggies even if they re imported from distant lands like California or Florida My favorite parts were some of Kingsolver s charming stories of their culinary adventures especially those involving Citrus: A History goats and chicks and turkeys Also turkey sex or lack thereof hah There are some interesting organic recipes interspersed throughout the book though I found them somewhat daunting andor dubious from the standpoint of would my family really eat this or would there be an uprising against Mom Maybe I ll try some of them sometimeThere s also a lot of scary discussion of GM foods lack ofenetic diversity hybridization and other worrisome trends and potential ecological disasters For some readers this will be fascinating stuff I lost interest in the book about halfway through I did Building the South Side: Urban Space and Civic Culture in Chicago, 1890-1919 get a chuckle out of the defensive tone of the part where Kingsolver was explaining why their family isn t vegetarian Eating meat is okay as long as it s organic and doesn t come from stockyards or other inhumane conditions Here again I have to applaud her family s commitment they slaughter and prepare their own chickens and turkeys for the dinner tableI think 350 plus pages was a bit much for this story at least for my interest level in it There s a preachy didactic tone to the writing that infuses too much of the book andot really tiresome after a while Still it has a worthwhile message and we could all benefit from doing a little better in this department And now I think I need to o find a local food stand and buy some fresh peaches and corn on the cob. Animal Vegetable Miracle is an enthralling narrative that will open your eyes in a hundred new ways to an old truth You are what you .natural and organic
Out here only the aspiration of living off your own and local produce is scalable for those without her means What saves the book is its humour best demonstrated in her account of the upbringing and the sexual lives of turkeys This book ave me desires Deep dark desires forgardening And making my own cheese And doing things from scratch And doing them nowThe thing is these are all things I have aspirations to do anyway but my way is rather slower than the way Barbara Kingsolver and her family approached trying to eat locally for a year I m trying to make small long term changes one at a time hopefully in a way that I ll stick to it But it was fun to read about someone else s experiment in mostly non preachy tones and you know uite a lot about turkey birth sex and death Note The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement You can read why I came to this decision hereIn the meantime you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook This book was one of my big disappointments so far this year because I went in thinking I d really like it and wound up so unimpressed that I think I actually hated it The premise of the book is an interesting one so interesting that I called my mother on the way back from the bookstore to tell he Wellnormally I am a Kingsolver fan I like the way she writes simple and straight forward Her stories both long an short are well done But this book just really pissed me off It s a non fiction account of her back to the land movement with her family The book starts off well and Classic Rough News good She describes their reasoning for leaving Tuscon and moving to a farm they inherited She talks about the trials and tribulations of trying to live off of what they can either produce themselves through farming or buy locally Each family member is only allowed one luxury item This consists of foodstuffs that can t be produced at home or bought locally It s a bit over the top if you ask me but I suppose an interesting addition to their overall movement Kingsolver makes a lot ofood points about eating what s in season and offers some handy recipes However about mid way through the book her passion and reflections take an unfortunate turn to absolute preachiness She writes as if our understanding of the food chain stops at our understanding of how to open a bag of Doritos She proceeds to slam vegetarians apparently we do not Class and Conformity: A Study in Values - With a Reassessment (Midway Reprint) get the concept of family farming because if we did we would eat locally raised animals She also looks down her nose at those who shop at supermarkets for food apparently people who think we are doingood by purchasing organic items are really not Ditto for those who use recycled paper towels I Class Warfare: Class, Race, and College Admissions in Top-Tier Secondary Schools guess her family makes their own Sheets on a high horse about of all things canning She maintains that us city folk could feed ourselves off the land year round if we would only can the fruits and vegetables we buy at the farmer s market in the summer and store them in our pantry Perhaps if Barbara went to a real NYC apartment and not just those of her publisher and editor she would realize that most of us if we are lucky have a broom closet and 2 cabinets If only I would be selfless enough to keep my clothes on my fire escape I uess what made me the maddest about this reading experience is that I Really Like Kingsolver As like Kingsolver as author and was looking forward to her take on living off the land I also liked the premise of this particular book It reminded me of a book my father in law wrote years and years ago only this one is a hell of a lot less funny We all have a responsibility to conserve and be aware of our impact But her assumption that we re all bumbling idiots just threw me over the edge Too bad I hope her next piece is #fiction i can forgive the obvious shortcommings of #I can forgive the obvious shortcommings of book for three significant Reasons First I Believe Wholeheartedly That By First I believe wholeheartedly that by as much locally rownmade food as possible we can solve our fossil fuel dependency Secondly by the luck of the draw I can afford to purchase food from the weekly farmer s market And finally our household is committed to making around 95% of our meals from scratch which started as a response to our collective allergies nondairy meat eaters but like the Kingsolver tribe once our taste buds were reawakened by the flavor of our delicious made by scratch food there was no turning back I agree with most of what she says and respect her reminder that I need to buy as much food as possible from local farmers and I am Citizens and Paupers: Relief, Rights, and Race, from the Freedmen's Bureau to Workfare going to try a few of her recipes I do on occasion enjoy a frozen Snickers barIneneral I endured this book and it certainly motivated me But the book has many problemsSeveral critics have said it was not her intention to convince everyone but I don t buy that When a well known author writes a book like this it becomes persuasive argument Hey every book you write is an argument Besides The Farmer s Market Choir is already convinced Rather uickly Kingsolver s tone is preachy and well whom is she yelling at but the uninitiated It reminds me of the old saying there is nothing worse than listening to the recently reformed After all she did spend a huge amount of time in Arizona and that other life eating and drinking Poor Arizona The only answer this evolved American author can come up with is to abandon you I was both an inspired and a reluctant reader I wish I had edited this book to help cut out some of the unnecessary fat One moment she has me right in the palm of her hand the next she veers off shoe horning that well warn and skewed stereotype about how the French conquest and community:the afterlife of warrior saint ghazi miyan given their high calorie intake manage to stay thin and how Europe has nude beaches where Americans could never show up with rolls of fat hanging out and suddenly I feel cornered by the marginalized relative at my family reunion At first I am nodding with agreement when she argues that eating freshly prepared food is a matter of attitude but then she says take a look at Mexico and I stop nodding Having stayed on many a ranch in Mexico I wonder why she fails to recognize the rigidender roles The economic problems Then much later on page 127 she admits that Full time homemaking may not be an option for those of us delivered without trust fundsReuired participation from a spouse and kids an element of the euation and well it all comes much too late This book had the potential but missed the chance to change the minds of the other people the unco. Ly buy food raised in their own neighborhood row it themselves or learn to live without it Part memoir part journalistic investigation. .