Book Chats: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

This week I finished a book I’ve been working on for months: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I really am so bad about reading a chapter and then not touching a book again for 2 weeks. I certainly didn’t mind savoring this book, though, because it was just lovely.

AVM, as I’ll be referring to it moving forward, is the authors account of her and her family eating completely locally (with a few minor exceptions) for an entire year. They grow most of their own food in their garden, raise livestock, and source other items they cannot grow from local sellers. The book covers many topics you would raise questions about when hearing someone was embarking on a journey like this: how will you vacation, won’t you miss X Y & Z processed item, can you eat out, is X Y Z even made locally, isn’t that a lot of work?

The struggles and successes of this families journey are inspirational and at the same time, guilt inducing in some ways. I certainly feel a bit lazy about not being able to maintain the garden in our backyard when I read about this family dedicating hours a day over many months to grow their own food. I don’t think its quite enough guilt to enter back into big tim gardening like I attempted during the first year in our house, but I will certainly be embracing the farmers markets a bit tighter this year (you know, if we’re actually allowed outside by then).

While Kingsolver speaks about produce in the most elegant, romanticized way, there was one chapter in particular that rubbed me the wrong way. She speaks of how she used to be vegetarian and now is not for various reasons. From there she launches into a tasteless tirade against veganism using the same tired and baseless arguments that every vegan has heard 1,000 times over. To me this felt oddly defensive in a book that had felt more like a celebration of food, rather than an argument over it.

Overall, I think this is a wonderful book to read heading into Spring as motivation to get your garden together and embrace your local growers at the farmers market. I really deeply enjoyed it and I’ll be passing it along to my grandma since she enjoys growing her own food as well.

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