This is the stuff of Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a memoir in which her whole family devotes a year to living off the land. The tales of their strict locavore diet make for humorous and delightful reading, but importantly, this story will invoke action.
The book marches the reader through the seasons on Kingsolver’s Midwestern farm, unveiling at each page turn a new garden discovery or pleasant culinary surprise brought from their local lifestyle. Her teenage daughter provides seasonal recipes, and journal-style entries of a modern youth wholeheartedly embracing what might otherwise seem a quaint, hippie parent’s fad. Kingsolver’s husband contributes sidebars to each chapter, providing statistics and historical research that will send you running (not driving) straight to the farmers’ market.
For instance, he explains that “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 over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week. That’s not gallons, but barrels.”
Part of the charm of this tale lies in its ability to entice the reader with the joys, but also the manageability, of eating locally. Kingsolver describes making homemade mozzarella cheese at home (she claims it can be done in under 30 minutes!), growing bean sprouts on her window sill, or using their bread maker on a regular basis. Also, for those not ready to dive head-first into a “purist” locavore lifestyle, she offers suggestions to make the transition easier. For instance, each of her family members selected one must-have product that would not be grown locally. From coffee to spices to chocolate, they each chose an item that could be shipped in dry, bulk form, thereby creating less ecological damage than, say, shipping bottles of orange juice cross-country.
The book also provides guidance for finding heirloom seeds for your garden, and reviews of farmers and restaurants that are committed to sustainable practices that support a locavore lifestyle.
Chock-full of advice, information, and tasty tales, this book will satisfy your reading cravings, while inspiring you to step out and fill your life with a richness that is unattainable through the aisles of your local supermarket. Read this book, and let the inspiration begin!