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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

July 22, 2008

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life is the story of Barbara Kingsolver’s family’s experiment to live one year on home and locally grown animals and vegetables. At the beginning of the book, they live in Tuscon, Arizona, but spend their summers on a farm in southwestern Virginia. They decided to move to the farm and attempt to “live off the land” for one year. They make a commitment to grow what they can and buy as much of the rest from local producers. Of course, there are some things, like coffee, that they can’t do that with. It takes them some time to get the farm and the farmhouse to the point where they can start. This book takes you through their year and even includes some recipes. Some of the things I learned from this book are:

  • About 17 percent of our nation’s energy use goes for agriculture. 80 percent of that is for transportation of food. Our food travels about 1500 miles to get to us. Buying locally produced foods can help decrease our dependence on oil.
  • The UN reports that current food production can sustain 8 billion people – that’s the projected population for 2030.
  • Eggs produced by free range chickens contain less cholesterol than eggs produced by confined chickens
  • Local Harvest ( lists farmers markets, farms and stores and restaurants that use locally grown food.
  • Most of the malnourished children in this world live in countries that produce surplus food.

Barbara Kingsolver’s husband (Steven Hopp) and older daughter (Camille Kingsolver) contributed to this book. His contributions were technical and hers told how things felt from a younger perspective.

At times this book made me feel guilty and lazy – it takes a lot of work to produce all that food. At other times it inspired me – I’ve ordered a 30 minute mozzarella kit from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. There were times the book was repetitive and times it was preachy, but it is definitely a worthwhile read. It will make your re-think how you spend your grocery dollars.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. readerville permalink
    July 22, 2008 9:31 am

    Thanks for the review! This is coming up in my TBR pile, and I’m really looking forward to it.

    Re: your comment on my blog I’m so glad to hear that someone else shared that obsession. I also read both Shattered Dreams and Escape, and I really felt like Shattered Dreams was the one that should have ended up a bestseller. The writing was so much better. If you haven’t read Under the Banner of Heaven, you should definitely add that to your list…and it sounds like you’re a great candidate to love Big Love on HBO, if you’re not already into it.

  2. stacybuckeye permalink
    July 22, 2008 10:45 am

    I’ll have to get this from the library next time I’m there. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. leila permalink
    July 22, 2008 11:40 am

    I bought this book recently, and I’m looking forward to reading it. Thanks for writing this review.

    Braden and I are in the process of moving from a condo in the big city to a house in a small town, where we have a huge yard. I plan to plant a big garden and try to grow our own food and preserve what we can’t eat fresh. I’d like to try making my own cheese, too. We probably won’t be able to manage the level of self-sustainability that Barbara Kingsolver describes in her book, but it’ll be a big improvement over what we do now.

  4. September 18, 2008 12:13 pm

    This is one book I’ve picked up and put down at the store though I’m not sure why. How did the mozzarella come out?

  5. September 18, 2008 4:01 pm

    I’ve been looking forward to this book – thanks for the great review!

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