I’ve been a fan of Barbara Kingsolver’s writing since I read her novel, The Poisonwood Bible, so I was intrigued when I learned she’d written a memoir about her family’s quest to eat from local sources for an entire year. I put the book on my “to read” list after hearing a review of it on NPR and then picked it up on a recent bookstore trip. I’d like to thank Barbara for getting me through jury duty in enjoyable fashion, since I polished off most of this book while sitting in the courthouse basement last week waiting to be called for service.
The book came at a good time for me. The last few months of the school year brought so many activities and so much work-related travel, that my cooking tapered off to almost non-existent. I found this distressing not only because of the value I place on sitting down as a family in the evenings but also because of the toll I knew it would take on my family’s waistlines as well as our wallets. Eating out is as expensive as it is unhealthy.
I needed a reminder of all that as well as some inspiration to focus on preparing healthier meals. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle provided both. Kingsolver and her family live on a rural Virginia farm. This engaging memoir traces their activities from April to April, as they garden, raise chickens and turkeys, and even manage to find a diner that serves local food while on vacation. Kingsolver’s daughter and husband also weigh in, she with recipes and cooking tips, he with essays on some of the socio-political ramifications of their efforts.
I enjoyed daughter Camille’s cooking tips and recipes and marveled at her maturity. I don’t know a lot of nineteen year olds who could write as well or convey such a well-grounded sense of self. And, many of the recipes sound so yummy!
While I don’t honestly see much gardening or poultry farming in my personal future, I do intend to follow Kingsolver’s suggestions regarding supporting local farmers. Ironically, I came home last week to a note from my housecleaners regarding the availability of fresh eggs and goat milk and cheese from their farm. There are also several area farmers markets and a farm store nearby. I’ll be buying more of my produce there this summer.
And, I’ve already contributed to the local food economy this weekend. We have an organic, artisan bread shop that we frequent fairly often. I stopped by and bought some of our favorite challah, a baguette, and a loaf of asiago cheese bread. And those organic, locally produced shortbread cookies? They were for the cause…totally for the cause!