Thursday, October 8, 2009

Book Review: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I'm going to try something new today. I've not been posting much because, frankly, the most exciting thing that has happened to me in the past few weeks is one homeworkless day...which I spent poking around Facebook. And I've certainly not experienced anything interesting in the culinary world lately (unless you count yesterday's Oktoberfest celebration at the cafeteria, which I don't).

So in lieu of relating my culinary exploits, I'm going to review a book. While Animal, Vegetable, Miracle isn't an overt "foodie" read, it does bring to light many issues related to responsible consumption, an important consideration for the modern eater.

Published in 2007, the book tells the story of author Barbara Kingsolver's move (along with her husband and two daughters) to a small tract of land in Appalachia. Accompanying the move was a family pact to join the locavore movement: that is, the family decided to obtain all of their food from within a 100-mile radius.

Kingsolver is best known for her works of fiction, such as the immensely popular Poisonwood Bible. Few people realize that she is an avid home gardener with a masters degree in evolutionary biology. The combination of skilled writer and environmental scientist makes for a great read, and one without the pretension of similar eco-books. Kingsolver remains grounded, offering environmentally friendly options for people with little time, money, and/or space.

Separated into months (the Kingsolvers' initial locavore commitment was for one year), the book is interspersed with recipes and nutritional information from Kingsolver's oldest daughter, Camille, and insight from Steven Hopp, Kingsolver's husband. Despite the fact that it forces the reader to consider some of the biggest environmental issues of our time, the book is a light read. Comic anecdotes abound...especially entertaining is the chapter describing Kingsolver's difficulty in trying to get turkeys to mate with themselves (a trait corporate farming has bred out of them; if you're buying your turkey from the grocery store, it's been artificially inseminated by human hands).

Don't have time to read the book? Not to worry. The book's website includes recipes, news, and even a new index for the book. If nothing else, check out the brilliant depiction of the "vegetannual," an easy guide for knowing what produce is in season when.

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