Thursday, June 21, 2007

A new book of note...

Barbara Kingsolver, author of The Poisonwood Bible, Prodigal Summer, and The Bean Trees among others, has produced a new non-fiction book with her husband and daughters about a year of conscious food choices. While Animal, Vegetable, Miracle might sound like a diet book, it's really a memoir about a year of trying to raise their own food in rural U.S. and learning to live without foods that have to be imported more than 120 miles. Kingsolver writes the bulk of the book with sidebars of scientific note by her husband Steven Hopp, and personal notes of how a teenager coped and cooked during this year by her daughter Camille. Kingsolver writes really well, with a casual style that describes everything from the horrors of off-season fruit eating to the humorous antics of slaughtering your own chickens. She explains their adventure well, "We're converts in progress, not preachers", as to why this story is not really a diet or lifestyle suggestion, but a memoir of their own story. They recommend being conscious of the choices you make about the food you eat, where it comes from and what it took to get to you, and she says something that resonated with me - "It's the worst of bad manners to ridicule a small gesture." I took this to mean that every small step is important whether it's bringing canvas bags to the grocery store rather than choosing to forever forgo bananas as they are all imported to the Northeast US from far away, or choosing fair-trade coffee rather than raising your own free-range chickens. This book is worth reading through as it will at least make you more informed about the choices you make many times a day.

4 comments:

Cat said...

Does Camille come off well? it seems like it could be easy for the teenager's tone to be the whiny counterpoint to the parents' commitment.

Jess said...

She actually sounds more mature than she should be - she provides the easy seasonal recipes and more practical issues of eating locally - like how to give up fresh fruit in the spring before it grows.

Alexa said...

I've heard about this book, and it seems like it would be more accessible than Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma (he's kind of condescending). I'll have to put it on my library list!

Zimmie

Jess said...

Yeah, it's definitely NOT condescending, at all. More celebrative and contemplative about what it means to make choices about our food. The only thing they really nag about is how people can accept the really poor quality of out-of season fruits and vegetables rather than waiting for and thoroughly enjoying them when they are in fact in season.