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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food…

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

by Barbara Kingsolver

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,955240971 (4.14)399
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)
Title:Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
Authors:Barbara Kingsolver
Info:HarperCollins (2007), Hardcover
Collections:Your library, Currently reading
Tags:non-fiction, nonfiction, food, farming, agriculture, lifestyle

Work details

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver (Author) (2007)

  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 399 mentions

English (238)  French (1)  All languages (239)
Showing 1-5 of 238 (next | show all)
A well-written and informative book that looks at a family's attempt to eat locally for a year. Kingsolver - along with her daughter and husband, who co-author the book - strikes a delicate balance between advocacy and informative prose that works best because she ultimately sticks to her storyteller roots and tells a great tale about the family's various struggles and surprising (and sometimes funny) discoveries along the journey.

One should know that while reading this book may make you a convert, it ultimately is not a book made to make you feel guilty. As she acknowledges throughout the book, every little effort counts. As Hopp mentions in one of the sidebars, "If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country's oil consumption by more than 1.1 million barrels of oil every week."

So, small changes is the main thing - that and to learn to enjoy food in a way that is in many ways more affordable and definitely healthier and tastier than the alternative to which we've become accustomed. Kingsolver doesn't use guilt or harassment as a tool, nor does she present the challenge her family took on as easy. At best, the book makes the point (not explicitly I think, but through multiple examples) that every dollar you spend is a vote that counts, and thus - since a lot of our daily purchases concern food - why not put it that money where it can make the most difference? Probably the only possible guilt may come for those playing Farmville or its similar iteration on Facebook - though that is not necessarily a bad thing, in my opinion. ( )
  irrelephant | Feb 21, 2021 |
Uh, oh. I think this book may have changed my life. I’ve been WWOOFing in Italy for several months by now, and the start of this book sounded pretty much like a preachy summary of everything I had been doing and learning since March. Her voice droned on, broken up occasionally by the voices of her husband and daughter, all harping endlessly on the same concepts, the same preaching-to-the-choir ideals. Only for the second half of the book did I feel I had gained much of anything, though for reasons I’ll avoid ranting about here, the chapter describing her vacation to Italy caused me physical pain. At the start, she goes into details about where she and her family are moving from, where they are moving to, and why they opted to cross the country. Her reasons for starting the whole project may not have appealed to me because they so obviously lined up with my own reasons for coming across the Atlantic and beginning a year of agriculture training abroad; her passionate, well-defended reasons didn’t seem so smart since I had already come up with them myself. Likewise, her initial farming tips didn’t strike me as particularly mind-blowing or original. Further along her family’s journey, however, I began to see the differences between her commitment and mine, and the information she brought to light astounded me. As I imagine her lawyers vehemently directed her, she barely grazes the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the revolting relationship between seed catalogues and seed company Monsanto. Her informative sections on the business of raising chickens with her daughter highlighted a different side of chicken-raising than my current chicken-coop-cleaning lifestyle has. Her jokes about being up to her elbows in both zucchini AND tomatoes in August rang very, very, very close to home – as did her less humorous bits about the endlessness of weeding did. And, of course, her immense amount of material on turkey sex had me laughing while weeding my Italian zucchini. In all of this laughing, though, she emphasized the serious moral and ethical motivations behind her choices. In particular, her debate about vegetarianism, with her eldest daughter’s opinion included, proved thought-provoking – very rarely in this type of literature, as far as I can tell, do you find an exceptional amount of pro-meat writing. As someone who has toyed around with the pros and cons of each side of this debate, I found her and her daughter’s ideas informative, well spoken, and convincing. (Basically, the only meat they eat is free-range; they know for a fact that their victims led respectable lives before death. Thus, they’re also eating less meat; their health benefits as the animals do.) I’m set to read more of this kind of literature in the future, and I’m also feeling inspired to find a way to make this kind of lifestyle more realistic for myself when I return to the states. ( )
  revatait | Feb 21, 2021 |
I loved this book. In addition to enjoy in the beautifully descriptive prose and drooling over the recipes, some of which I made, it inspired me to plant a garden. ( )
  LoriFox | Oct 24, 2020 |
Lives up to its reputation.

Now, if only I could live up to the optimism about eating locally I felt while reading it! ( )
  elenaj | Jul 31, 2020 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 238 (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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Picture a single imaginary plant, bearing throughout one season all the different vegetables we harvest...we'll call it a vegetannual.
In memory of Jo Ellen
First words
This story about good food begins in a quick-stop convenience market.
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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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.

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