“Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” By Barbara Kingsolver (2007); 354 pages

Started reading October 26, finished reading November 14.

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After just getting back on track with the blog, I could have picked a book that I could have read a bit faster. But alas, no. This one had been recommended to me by at least two of you (my friend Sherrie was one; she called me from Israel every day to remind me about this book until I swore that I actually had it in my possession… and let me know if you were the other one so I can give you due credit) so I knew I simply had to read this next. A lovely memoir, easy to read and completely fascinating, but it is pretty long. And 350+ pages is a lot to read while being caught up in election mania. So despite several days mostly devoted to reading (including during breaks between poll-watching on now-historical Nov. 4; and two long hours a week later in the hair salon) it took me enough weeks to read that I’m starting to get embarrassed about how I’m faring in this 50 books project. (Which begs the question- should I be choosing books purely because I can get through them in a week? Or because they’re books that I’m dying to read? So yeah, I want to complete this challenge…. but my choices are going to continue to lean to the side of “books I really want to read.” I already know I can read a fun fluff book a week. But wouldn’t that be missing the whole point?)

So was it worth it to spend three full weeks on “Animal Vegetable Miracle”? Absolutely. Worth every page. If you are a food-eating human, I recommend this book. And if you are one who eats and cooks, I recommend you read it once a year. I’m a bit afraid that as inspired and excited as I am right now…. might I forget by April that I swore to change my eating/gardening/shopping/cooking ways? A periodic re-read may be required just as a reminder…

Barbara Kingsolver – novelist, farmer, biologist, mom, cook – and her family moved from Arizona to Appalachia, started to eat local and even grow much of their own food, and documented the entire year in this memoir. Her professor husband contributed sciency-essays, and her teenage daughter provided recipes and her own thoughts about the whole experiment. They explain what is wrong with conventional agri-business (its horrifying) and why it’s good for us (all of us) to eat more organic, support local farmers, do some of our own growing, do lots of our own cooking, etc etc. It all makes a lot of sense. And if you believe Kingsolver, which I do, we’re all going to have to come around to this way of thinking sooner or later– before we run out of fuel, land, or worse.

While at first this seems like is a whole new way of life–and for Kingsolver’s family, it was– it’s not hard to adapt ideas from this book and make them work for you.This local-food movement has taken off even more since this book was published in 2007. Some of my friends here in Alabama even have their own awesome blog about their own similar locavore experiences… between talking to them and reading this book, I’ve already been able to start incorporating new habits into our daily and weekly routines.  Sure, growing all of your own food may seem completely unfamiliar, or even incomprehensible. But what about going to your own local farmers’ market? Make a commitment to buy more of your veggies from local producers, buy just what is in season (something you don’t even need to think about at a farmers’ market, because what’s in season is all you’re going to see) and you’re already most of the way there. So join me in a new challenge: visit a farmers’ market once a week, spend at least $10 (it just would have ended up being spent at Publix, anyway) and cook something new with it. Or just make yourself an easy, locally-grown baked potato. You’re going to love it. And then go get this book.

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