Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Here’s a Cool Idea that couples my love of Books with something close to the Cool Idea of the CSA we belong to. Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is about her family’s decision to eat locally for one year. This wasn’t an overnight decision for them but an enhancement of many of their previous life choices. One of the most significant choices they make is to leave their main home in Arizona to live full-time at their summer home in Southwest Virginia. They’d been making preparations for several years but still it was an adjustment to move from the arid southwest to the agricultural/ Applachian land in which they settle. They plant the garden, set the rules to eat by – to buy nothing that isn’t grown/ produced within their county and stick to the plan for one year.

The book follows their work month by month through the year. To me, it’s like being in school but more fun. I loved ready about how “I” could do things for myself if I just put my mind to it. Had I ever thought about the fact I could make my own cheese or yogurt? Of course not. Those things come from stores in my world. They had to because no one was producing them locally. Had I thought of canning my own tomatoes? No, I didn’t even have tomatoes except the ones that came in my farm box each week and I was still at the point of trying to consume them before they went mushy instead of putting them away for the winter.

I loved the pacing of the book. There are stories of their work along with essays and recipes. I did try the one for Swiss chard but I hesitate to tell you how it turned out. Let’s just say there was user error. The anecdotes about trying to get the turkeys to have sex or getting seeds out of the melon in Italy are unexpectedly entertaining and kinda remind me of listening to stories my grandmother might have told – if I had been old enough to understand what she was talking about.

Is this a Cool Idea? Absolutely! I’ve talked about this book to everyone with ears. In fact, I make a poor religious evangelist despite the fact I was raised Baptist but this is a book that I have practically handed out to strangers on street corners. Check out your library. It’s fantastic and beautifully readable.


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