Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver

Animal-Vegetable-MiracleWell-known novelist Barbara Kingsolver and her family decided to take food sourcing into their own hands. They moved from the desert of Tucson back to a family farm in Virginia and chronicled a year of growing their own food or buying from local sources. What they couldn’t produce or find, they’d do without. This is not some radical new idea. Think back not so long ago, when it was all done that way. People had gardens, shared with neighbors, sold at markets. You knew the source of just about everything you fed your family.

Kingsolver goes month by month, describing what they are planting and harvesting and what is available at farmers’ markets. In March, they wait for the first asparagus, and they know when to seed pumpkins, so they’ll be ready for Halloween. They raise turkeys and chickens, for egg production and for main courses. Their younger daughter starts an egg business and is very practical, cautious to not give each hen a name! During tomato season, they all can, make sauces, salsas, can, and more, to get them through the bleak winter season. Instead of bananas or oranges, they eat local apples and rhubarb.

She’s also done her research and tells us how things got the way they are. For example, WWII bomb factories began producing fertilizer post war. Same fertilizer was applied to crops, which grew more and more produce, creating large agriculture companies. The produce was sent all over the USA, to help with “hunger concerns.” The large producers are given tax credits for the fuel and transportation. Thus California onions at the Georgia grocery store may cost less than those actually grown at small local farms.

She tells the history of small farms and showcases many in her area, struggling to stay relevant. The slow food movement is truly making a comeback, but it is still challenging for farmers. She gives an excellent source for more information, in addition to recipes.

It’s a fascinating read and gave me a new approach to food. I’ll shop much more at farmers’ markets and ask about food sources.

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