Animal Vegetable Miracle - Barbara Kingsolver

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a tale by Barbara Kingsolver of how she and her family lived for a solid year eating primarily local foods. Most of it she grew herself in her back yard garden, but she also went to local farmer's markets and bought food grown by her local area.

Some might complain that Barbara was "able" to grow her own food for this project, as she owns several acres of farmland in a rural area. However, the point of her story wasn't that we all had to grow our own food - just that we should try to eat local food, whoever grew it. She was quite happy to visit other markets. Also, I know many people who grow tomatoes in their sunny windows, cucumbers on their tiny back porch, and herbs in every corner of their home. We all have the potential to grow at least some food, if we just make the effort.

Barbara is helped in her tale telling by her husband and teenaged daughter. The trio of them provide amazingly useful information, background data, recipes and more. You learn how to go foraging for mushrooms, how to cook in season, how to plan ahead so that you have plenty of food in the winter without eating items flown in 2,000 miles.

Many people in modern times don't even know what is "in season" and then complain that cucumbers cost a lot in March. Of course they do! For most of us, March is NOT cucumber growing season! Those cukes must have been flown in from some far away location, and you are paying the cost of all that shipping. Never mind that the cukes won't taste as good as fresh cukes do.

Again, the solution laid out here is NOT to run off to a rural landscape and buy several acres of land and try to survive on it. Barbara is simply showing it is possible to do that. Many people work from home, and they can easily have gardens in whatever land or windows or stairs are available. Many towns and cities have community gardens, too, where you can grow items in perfect soil.

So, back to the story. Barbara does a great job of addressing issues right while she speaks about things. She talks about a family who has lost a son recently, and the uncomfortable feeling she has as they help her with chicken-slaying day. She talks about the issues and benefits of a vegan lifestyle. She talks about the trade-off between tobacco farmers surviving on a crop and the medical issues of smoking it.

I found it extremely inspiring that a family COULD survive by eating only local food in this day and age. I read this in March and there are no local farmer stands open near me, though! The supermarkets don't seem to stock a lot of local food. I will have to start my own local quest in May when the season really starts up, and then make an effort to freeze and can in the summer when food is plentiful. That way when winter comes around again I am all set - just like my grandparents used to do! It will save me a lot of money, save me time at the supermarket, and help to support my community and the environment.

A great solution all around!

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