Saturday, February 28, 2009

Reading List: "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (Barbara Kingsolver, 2007)

Continuing with my habit of reading any book that consists of an environmentally-themed personal challenge, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, fell right into that category. Kingsolver (most notably the author of The Poisonwood Bible) sets out with her family to eat only either what they can grow themselves or what was created locally (150 miles seems to be their “local radius”) for one year. Unlike the couple in Plenty (known as the “100-mile dieters”) Kingsolver and clan have a Kentucky farmhouse and enough knowledge of animal husbandry and agriculture to support it. (They also seem to handle issues with each other much better than the Plenty couple did.) Their admirable quest is made even more interesting by their commitment to heirloom varieties. Anyone can throw a handful of agro-conglomerate seeds in the ground and tend what grows, but it takes real patience to hunt down and nurture varieties that are all but extinct and unknown to the average American. (Most notably, instead of raising Broad-Breasted White Turkeys [which is what over 99% of all American turkey meat is] and instead raise Bourbon Reds, an heirloom variety. They must try to re-awaken the mating instinct that has essentially been bred out of the bird due to artificial insemination.)

While she insists that their lives were more than planting, hoeing, weeding, watering, picking and canning, the reader is left somewhat in doubt. (There are just not enough hours in the day to hold down a full time job and support a farm this size.) But for the average American with a small corner of land or room for a few containers for gardening, it is an otherwise inspiring tale of truly creating your own food supply.

No comments: