Sunday, October 9, 2011

Book Review: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver

Summary: Author Barbara Kingsolver and her family abandoned the industrial-food pipeline to live a rural life—vowing that, for one year, they’d only buy food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, 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 eat.
The Farmer's Review: I first read this book while on vacation and could hardly wait to get home to put into practice as much of Ms.Kingsolver’s philosophy about food as possible. Here we are four years later and I’ve done some.
I started and keep an organic garden, or as organic a garden as one can have in a suburban tract home neighborhood. God only knows what kind of fill is under the yard and house. I dug out my garden about 12”, added a mix of organic garden soil and organic compost, and began my hobby as gardener. I only purchase seeds from known organic suppliers and prefer to buy heirloom varieties. I shop at a feed store near downtown Houston where I can obtain organic, heirloom plants and organic fertilizers. I haven’t used a single pesticide since I started gardening, except for one application of rat poison. *shudder* I can’t stand rats.
I’m into the slow food movement, cooking almost every meal I eat at home or dining out where food is prepared in the restaurant’s kitchen. Sometimes I slip and hurriedly buy from a fast food joint but try to get a sandwich, soup, BBQ or baked potato from a shop where the food is prepared right there, from scratch.
I also became enamored of Ms. Kingsolver’s cheese making and ordered the book, video and equipment mentioned in the book. I still make some cheese but the biggest challenge is finding organic milk that has not been ultra pasteurized because that will not make cheese.
The funniest part of the book is when the Kingsolvers undertook to raise turkeys. They got heirloom chicks but because turkeys are usually slaughtered before they become sexually mature, her turkey had never learned how to have sex, so they were having trouble getting fertilized eggs and thus more chicks. One turkey fell in love with Ms. Kingsolver’s husband, to his chagrin.
I don’t live where I can raise goats for milk or chickens/turkeys for eggs but I always buy organic products.
I’ve become more and more “green”, with almost everything that is tossed out going into the recycle can or the compost heap. I put out the garbage can about once every six weeks or so, and even that is overkill – a giant can with about two or three pounds of trash that is not recyclable, such as chicken bones. I have considered becoming a vegetarian but like meat, poultry and fish so I try to eat healthy portions of organic meats and fish and pile more veggies on my plate than meat. The Forks over Knives movement is another step in this direction.
In conclusion, this excellent book changed my life and hopefully my little part of the planet. I recommend it highly and award Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Five Healthy Broccoli Stalks!

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