Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

~by Barbara Kingsolver

Although perhaps best known for her novel The Poisonwood Bible, this is the first book I've read by Barbara Kingsolver. A memoir of sorts, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is about Kingsolver and her family's experience trying to live as locally as possible and to provide as much for themselves as they can. This includes growing their own food and raising and killing their own poultry. In addition to Kingsolver's memoir, her husband Steven L. Hopp provides side bars discussing relevant topics mentioned in the main text and her older daughter, Camilla, offers her own perspective at the end of many of the chapters. Camilla also includes recipes and suggested meal plans for the various times of year.

The book follows the family from their move to their Appalachian farm from their home in the Arizona desert and some of the decisions leading up to that move. It then progresses through a year of food, beginning in late March. I loved learning what types of food are available during different seasons (although, Appalachia is a bit further south from me geographically, which will make a difference) and the work that goes into bringing that food to the table. While most of the book focuses on the family's farm and neighborhood, one chapter was devoted to a vacation to Italy that Kingsolver and her husband took. Although interesting, I didn't find it as pertinent to the books main message: living and eating locally is possible and a family won't starve by doing so, assuming you live in the right area. And even if you don't, there are options available and choices that can be made to help support a more sustainable agricultural practices.

Extraordinarily readable while being very informative, my ultimate response to the book--"I wanna do that, too!" I found it to be very inspiring, and while I may not be able to support myself by growing most of my own food at this point in my life, there are certainly some steps that I can take to live more sustainably and deliciously--like buying locally or supporting my area farmers or maybe even growing a few things in my window or making fresh cheese or...