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"Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver

So Diane and I were talking the other day and she mentioned that she was reading this book. She said she was reading the part about seeds and seed catalogues and it was freaking her out.

I had read about this book, and had wanted to read it for quite a while, so after talking to Di, I looked at my local library. Lo and behold, they had it!

I brought it home and couldn't wait to dive in.

Firstly let me say that I realize the average person could never do an experiment like this and pull it off. However, after reading this book, I now think about my grocery purchasing and eating habits in a whole new light.

The basic gist of the book is that Barbara Kingsolver and her family (husband and 2 daughters) leave their home in the Arizona desert to return to her ancestral home in the Appalachian region of Virginia. It just so happens that someone in her family (or her husband's, I don't remember which) has a small farm and the Kingsolvers are inheriting it. Must be nice, huh? Anyway, they move across the country and embark on an experiment of sorts. They are going to spend the next year subsisting solely off their land, with very little food coming from the store. They are going to eat regionally and only what is in season.

During the course of the book, Mrs. Kingsolver and her husband (a biologist) outline their reasoning for this choice- the horrors of meat and dairy production being chief among them.

I won't say anymore, because I really think people should read this book. Now that doesn't mean that I'm going to turn my back on my local Safeway and attempt to grow everything I need in my little apartment under a grow light, but it does mean that I might rethink some of my shopping.

I finished this book Saturday, and as a little experiment of my own, I decided to take my weekly shopping list and try to source as much of it locally/organically as I could. It was quite an education.

I started at our local food cooperative. I already love this place. I discovered it soon after my arrival as an inexpensive place to stock up on my favorite loose teas. But Saturday, I went in hell bent to buy local- or at least buy organic.

I succeeded in buying organic rolled oats (not local, but at least not full of pesticides). I use rolled oats to make my own granola. This isn't really a food snob thing- it's more an "I hate coconut" thing, and a lot of store-bought granola has coconut in it. Plus it is pretty easy to make your own, and then you can put everything but the kitchen sink in it. My last batch had pretzels, dried blueberries, dried cherries, whole pecans, oats, brown sugar and honey.

I wanted to buy some local goat cheese. Unfortunately, every piece of cheese I picked up was from Canada. I know for a fact there is a goat farm around here, I'm just going to have to do a little sniffing around to find it.

I did find local fingerling potatoes and regular baking potatoes. I also found local hot house grown tomatoes.

On the way home, I stopped by the Valley Meat Market. I asked the guy behind the counter where the meat came from. His answer was slightly less than inspired. He told me it all came from the Swift meat packing plant (which I believe is in Colorado Springs)- none of it was regional, much less local. Now I also know there are farms around here selling free range lamb and elk and stuff. Again- I just have to find them.

I have decided that although I can't buy all of my groceries from local sources, if I'm willing to do some homework, and seek the sources out, I can do quite a bit of business locally. As the weather warms, prospects will improve. And if I can wait until July 4th, our farmers market will open and this whole thing will be much easier. Unfortunately, our growing season is short, so it will close again Labor Day weekend, but I'll get as much as I can while it's open.

So, everyone should go read this book. And think about trying to support your local growers. I know we can't all change everything at once, but we can make a difference even if we do a little.

End of sermon.....

Oh- and if you want to check out other people's reviews, here is the amazon info on the book.


Anonymous said…
I've read Pigs in Heaven by Kingsolver, but not that one. I imagine with her colorful style the book must be fantastic. Agreed on the local growers.

Jeez, I feel like we don't even live in the same town anymore!
Anonymous said…
I haven't finished it yet, but I have been doing the same and wrote a blog about two mind boggling offenses of non-local consumption...check it out.

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