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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (2007)

by Barbara Kingsolver, Steven L. Hopp (Author), Camille Kingsolver (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,807239949 (4.15)395
When Kingsolver and her family move from suburban Arizona to rural Appalachia, they take on a new challenge: to spend a year on a locally produced diet, paying close attention to the provenance of all they consume. "Our highest shopping goal was to get our food from so close to home, we'd know the person who grew it. Often that turned out to be ourselves as we learned to produce what we needed, starting with dirt, seeds, and enough knowledge to muddle through. Or starting with baby animals, and enough sense to refrain from naming them."--From publisher description.… (more)
  1. 80
    The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan (SqueakyChu, heidialice, booklove2)
    SqueakyChu: Both books address a way of working with our current food culture.
  2. 20
    The Seasons on Henry's Farm: A Year of Food and Life on a Sustainable Farm by Terra Brockman (JanesList)
    JanesList: Both are delightful to read and tell the story of sustainable growing and eating throughout the year, with recipes and family contributions to the books. You might not want to read them both in the same month, but if you liked one, I bet you'll like the other.… (more)
  3. 20
    Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life by Jenna Woginrich (sonyagreen)
  4. 20
    The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability by Lierre Keith (owen1218)
  5. 10
    Fifty Acres and a Poodle: A Story of Love, Livestock, and Finding Myself on a Farm by Jeanne Marie Laskas (hipdeep)
    hipdeep: Not a book about slow food, but for my money a far more interesting memoir of an urbanite's move to a farm.
  6. 10
    The New English Kitchen: Changing the Way You Shop, Cook and Eat by Rose Prince (hipdeep)
  7. 10
    Goat Song: A Seasonal Life, A Short History of Herding, and the Art of Making Cheese by Brad Kessler (Muriel743)
    Muriel743: Covers similar topics - i.e. mainly urban people pursuing food self-sufficiency, forming relationships with rural community and neighbours and learning the skills needed to feed themselves.
  8. 10
    An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies by Tyler Cowen (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  9. 22
    Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell (sturlington)
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» See also 395 mentions

English (237)  French (1)  All languages (238)
Showing 1-5 of 237 (next | show all)
Honestly this is more of a 3.5 star read, but since Goodreads does not allow for half-stars, I rounded this up to 4. I think too much of the book had Kingsolver talking down to readers and acting as if those of us not working the land are less than those who do. I rounded up though mostly because when Kingsolver focuses on the history of the vegetables or animal husbandry in this book it makes it something special. If she left off her limited world view of politics this wouldn't have irked me so much.

"Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" is a memoir written by Barbara Kingsolver. I guess she was one of the leading voices in the whole eat local movement. I kind of laugh about that since I grew up in the 90s, my whole family ate locally. Most people I know did in PA. We had farms nearby and we would get our meat and milk from them but my whole family had "kitchen gardens." My grandmother, aunt, and mother would can vegetables during the summer and put things away in our cold basement so we could have vegetables during the winter. This is a pretty long-winded way of saying black people been eating from the land since slavery. Kingsolver without meaning to though makes the whole book about a small predominantly white town she lives in, in VA and focuses on farmers. I don't know why the US has this weird view of farmers as salt of the Earth, real Americans, but we tend to fetishisize them along with soldiers.

Kingsolver also at one point she brings up red states and blue states and defends conservatives and my eyes would not stop rolling. Yeah, conservatives to me in the US means, okay with racism as long as it does not affect their day to day life. I know this was written in 2007, but this was the 10 year anniversary of the book which means this got republished after the rise of Trump which shows that she saw what was going on with farmers getting screwed and still kept some of the tone-deaf text without editing. I can't even talk about her comments about Katrina and her whole what about the farmers that made me drop my jaw.

You are now probably going, well Blue why did you keep reading this? Well because of the writings from her daughter and husband. Those two at least realize that eating from the land/locally is not an easy thing to see. Kingsolver's own daughter goes into telling poor people to eat healthier without providing a way for them to do so is just ridiculous. Her husband points out the many ways the US has ignored ongoing issues with regards to farming, and how we process meat and vegetables in our country. When Kingsolver focuses on the history of a vegetable like asparagus and the best time to plant it and harvest it is when the book sang to me. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
22
  IlsaK | Jun 18, 2020 |
A family grows almost all the food they eat for a year. Whether or not that sounds interesting to you already doesn’t change how great this book is. Her poetry background makes this extremely well written, and the variety of topics covered kept me engaged throughout. Plus the narrative of getting through different parts of the year is engaging enough. This book does have a very strong opinion, but it is well presented and logical. And there’s recipes in each chapter so there’s that.
As a takeaway, this isn’t about eating organically and cleansing or gourmet home cooked food; it’s about living sustainably. And that happens to be the most healthy and delicious way to do it. ( )
  Dustin.glendinning | May 19, 2020 |
Excellent book, but not without caveats. After reading The Poisonwood Bible (a Kingsolver novel) the writing here was not nearly as good. But then again, it's hard to top, or even match that poem of a novel. So... the writing. That's really the only criticism, the meat of the book, is brilliant.

In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Kingsolver endeavers to eat for one solid year as close to the Earth as possible. She and her husband own a small farm. Additionally, they could supplement their diet locally for some other food items. And they allowed an extremely limited number of shipped items (coffee, spices, olive oil, and a couple other things).

This was an experiment. The book illustrates her family's experiences, the mistakes they make, and more. It also serves to point out what is possible. She acknowledges that many folks can't grow their own food, but most can certainly eat more sustainably. And she makes a plea to eat "just one meal" a week on nothing but stuff grown nearby.

Vegans won't like this book. She casually brushes aside their arguments pretty handily.

Folks that eat "whatever they find in the supermarket" may feel defensive (you see it throughout the reviews of this book). The book is intended to enlighten and inspire, but it seems to do the opposite with some. With some the book invokes defensive reactions.

Does it come across as self-important, self-congratulatory, self-satisfying? I would say "prideful" is the right word. She did something really hard, especially in an age where many of the skills necessary have atrophied or even disappeared. Her commentary on turkey breeding was especially telling. She prevailed. Pretty impressively. As I read the book I kept thinking, "just wait until the hard months, Jan, Feb, Mar". She talks about this and beginning to run short of food. To many folks, I am sure this one section alone would be eye opening.

In the end, this is a book about process and what is possible. And a book about sustainability. The plea is to reduce our carbon footprint on the world. And to simply be... no so wasteful. The biggest impact all people can make is simply eating closer to home. For most this is possible, for others (her example is living in Arizona) the only solution is to move.

Preachy? Well, it's a book endorsing an idea... yeah, it will be a tad preachy. It's a sermon, that's what one should expect.

But it is a good sermon. A very achievable sermon. A plea to be more like Tuscany and less like... Arizona (and the rest of the USA). If folks would take this book to heart we'd really begin to tap into our local uniqueness (terrior), but more importaly, reduce our energy dependence and simply make the world a better place. ( )
  ErrantRuminant | Mar 13, 2020 |
Overall interesting, educational and usually (though sometimes not) motivating. I liked most of it and even loved parts - the turkeys! - but, yeah, okay, I skimmed a tiny bit on the more philosophical musings. The ending (which can really weight my overall rating of a book) left me with a big, happy smile and a warm, fuzzy feeling of celebration. So yeah, I'm going to keep this one around, at the very least because I want to try the cheese recipe. ( )
  Aug3Zimm | Nov 12, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 237 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kingsolver, BarbaraAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hopp, Steven L.Authormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Kingsolver, CamilleAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Buchbinder, ClaireTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Daniel, HankPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hopp, Steven L.Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Houser, Richard A.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jiménez, NoeliaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kingsolver, BarbaraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kingsolver, CamilleNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Metsch, FritzDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Picture a single imaginary plant, bearing throughout one season all the different vegetables we harvest...we'll call it a vegetannual.
Dedication
In memory of Jo Ellen
First words
This story about good food begins in a quick-stop convenience market.
Quotations
If everything my heart desired was handed to me on a plate, I’d probably just want something else. (Camille Kingsolver)
We all cultivate illusions of safety that could fall away in the knife edge of one second.”
People who are grieving walk with death every waking moment. When the rest of us dread that we’ll somehow remind them of death’s existence, we are missing their reality.
Wake up now, look alive, for here is a day off work just to praise Creation: the turkey, the squash, and the corn, these things that ate and drank sunshine, grass, mud, and rain, and then in the shortening days laid down their lives for our welfare and onward resolve. There’s the miracle for you, the absolute sacrifice that still holds back seeds: a germ of promise to do the whole thing again, another time.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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