Monday, September 15, 2008

Review: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

This week I finished reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I've read all of Kingsolver's books, and I love her writing style. She's definitely a favorite. However, it took me a long time to get through this one. I'm not even quite sure why. I liked it, a lot. But maybe it just isn't the type of book to be read quickly from cover to cover.

Kingsolver and her family set out to try to eat locally, raising most of their own food, and staying away from, as much as possible, processed food, meat from animals raised in poor conditions, food shipped from far away, eaten out of season, etc. I admire her for doing what I only think about doing, and even then, can hardly seriously see myself considering. But Kingsolver makes strong arguments for how screwed up our food system is, how much we're just short-changing ourselves, as individuals and as a human race, and how worth it it would be to start making at least some changes.

She takes us through a year, talking about planting, raising turkeys and chickens, describing holiday gatherings, sharing (with husband and daughter helping) recipes and practical tips for things like canning, etc. Interspersed with her narrative, in her usual style, is a lot of information, statistics, science, that only Kingsolver can make enjoyable to read.

One excerpt that struck me:
"Overwork actually has major cachet in a society whose holy trinity is efficiency, productivity, and material acquisition. Complaining about [long work weeks] is the modern equivalent of public prayer." (308) I was really struck by this comment - I see so much of this in the church even - colleagues who love to talk (in a brag/complain combination) about how busy they are. Is that the goal we're after?

Anyway, I always find Kingsolver inspiring. Maybe next year I'll actually plant some of those seeds I have....
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