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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

14 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

Don't miss this life-changing book

How can a memoir about food possibly be so enthralling, so inspiring? This is a book for every American. It is a key component to a more sustainable and responsible future, to living more in sync with our planet. I have made subtle changes in my diet over the years, try...
How can a memoir about food possibly be so enthralling, so inspiring? This is a book for every American. It is a key component to a more sustainable and responsible future, to living more in sync with our planet. I have made subtle changes in my diet over the years, trying to "eat right," but this book was the nudge I needed to go all the way. You will laugh about turkey sex and cry over poor farm children (and swear at the agribusiness conglomerates). Don't miss this life-changing book co-written by Barbara Kingsolver (my favorite author), her husband Steven Hopp (who adds thought-provoking inserts), and her daughter Camille Kingsolver (whose brief narratives and recipes left me begging for more).

posted by Ed-Philosopher on December 19, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

23 out of 41 people found this review helpful.

Waste of my time

When referring to organic produce, the author asks who put the sanctimony into the phrase organic. If she has read her own book it should be crystal clear that it was none other than herself. Sanctimonious perfectly describes almost the entire book, Animal, Vegetable, M...
When referring to organic produce, the author asks who put the sanctimony into the phrase organic. If she has read her own book it should be crystal clear that it was none other than herself. Sanctimonious perfectly describes almost the entire book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I say almost, because the portions added by her daughter and husband are actually informative and enjoyable. The book must not be aimed at the American consumers to which it would be sold, because the author does not have one nice thing to say about her fellow Americans. She has even trained her younger daughter to deny her American heritage by saying that she is American, but not really. You can¿t possibly hope to influence people¿s attitudes by attacking them and then explaining why you are so much better, and this is what Kingsolver tries to do. The sad thing is that she even attacks like-minded people. She criticizes a ¿starlet¿ for wanting to save farm animals, saying that her logic is flawed. Then the author proceeds to say that dairy cows are bred to produce milk and cannot live without being milked. She should check out her facts before ridiculing someone else for getting them wrong. If a milking cow is not milked, the milk will eventually stop being produced, just like it does for us humans. For large-scale dairy farming, the cow could be milked less and less until the milk dries up. So it is pretty ridiculous to giggle about the starlet¿s stupidity and then say something really stupid herself. Ms. Kingsolver repeats over and over in the book that America has no food culture. This is totally untrue. America is a melting pot and has the richest food culture of anywhere else. America absorbed peoples from every nationality and their food cultures along with them. She also avows that the French sample McDonalds, but they don¿t really eat there. I hate to break it to her, but there are McDonalds restaurants in almost every European city, and if you want to buy a burger there you will have to wait in line. France is no different. The lines are always nearly out the door. I live in a European city with a population of only about 100,000 people, and there are no less than 4 McDonald¿s here. They are never empty. Ever. It was difficult for me to get all the way through the book. Most of the factual material was no news to me, and I think the book was a big waste of my time.

posted by Anonymous on February 8, 2008

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  • Posted April 20, 2009

    Taking organic to the next level

    Wow! In my part of the country, it's challenging enough to be a vegetarian trying to eat organic - but locally grown - Everything??!!. Kudos to Kingsolver and her family for taking "green" eating to the next level. Makes the rest of us more aware and inspired to do a little more ourselves.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 27, 2009

    GREAT !

    This is a great novel; there are many things that make it fascinating. First of all just the impressive writing of Barbara Kingsolver, her husband Steven, and her daughter Camille. Although my favorite part would have to be the segment Camille writes at the end of almost every chapter, she gives somewhat an overview and gives a recipe to a certain healthy dish. I have to say I have made one (Four Seasons Of Potato Salad [winter]) [pg.273] and it was very good. <BR/><BR/>Barbara¿s writing is inspirational she writes a lot about the fact that we as Americans have a lot to be proud of as a country. When it comes to something important as well such as food, we have fast food. Yes, it is quite good but what is really in it? Processed food, corn syrup (made from real corn but you get nothing good out if it) and basically just the unhealthy habits we as a whole have.<BR/><BR/>She goes with her family and starts basically new. They don¿t have a lot of land to their name but they work as a family, grow their own produce, and make great healthy meals by it. It made me believe that many people could be like this if we just took the time away from our everyday hectic schedules. Like I stated already, it is inspirational and just makes you want to get up and do something.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 4, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A top read for 2008; must-read if interested in our food.

    After hearing an interview with the author--my first podcast!--I was intrigued enough to break out of my rut of social science, business, and economics books to read a book all about food. This family's year-long experiment in growing their own food was fascinating, like The Real World, but with vegetables. I was impressed by what they were able to do with not a whole lot of land, and I sometimes caught myself daydreaming about living that farm life...waking up before dawn to pick vegetables I would later make into dinner, etc. Not to mention the issues surrounding local and organic food and America's food security, which she weaves into the story.<BR/><BR/>Only four stars, though, because of a few distractions. Kingsolver's husband writes a sidebar article in each chapter--in the middle of it. They're interesting, but distracting. You have to find a good stopping point, read the sidebar, and hope you remember where you left off in the chapter. The daughter's sidebars at the end of each chapter were better.<BR/><BR/>Also, I got a little vibe of preachiness from Kingsolver from this book. She acknowledges that not everyone has a garden or can be expected to raise and slaughter their own poultry, but I get the feeling that she's a little disappointed by that. It just struck me as a little hypocritical that she becomes a local food grower for one year and now feels like we're not living quite as well as her unless we're growing our own mushrooms. I get her point, and it definitely opened my eyes, but she just kind of beat me over the head with it.<BR/><BR/>Overall, an excellent good book, and Kingsolver is an excellent, engaging writer

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2007

    funny, sweet AND important

    Another wonderful book that only Kingsolver could have given us. Not that the topic hasn't been covered before -- it has, and thank God, it will get more coverage as time goes on. But only Barbara Kingsolver could bring the particular kind of self-deprecating, honest wit I appreciate so much, to her observations about humankind and its environs. Her husband and eldest daughter contribute to this book, too, which is an extra treat. Particularly as Camille's sections almost always include seasonal recipes. Her youngest daughter, too, is someone I'd like to meet someday. The whole family just seems a delight. Yeah, they'e probably got some money -- now, anyway -- but that is SO not the point, here. Anyone really can do a lot of what they're doing -- and even when we maybe can't, we can all decide to frequent farmers markets and stop eating the over-processed food that's killing us. I especially loved the reference in the book to Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa -- I know the place, since I live not far away -- and it is truly a national treasure!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2008

    jem

    do you even know kingsolver's background? guess not. suggest you check that out, including growing up partially in africa, before you start lecturing on preconceived american biases. geesh, like we all haven't visited mickey d's in europe. 20 or so yrs ago. stick to the book, not your snobbish american comments. start with her older book, the poisonwood bible. this book is a very well written book on modern day food consumption in all countries that use petroleum to transport food. not to mention just back to supporting local farmers.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Slow, but fascinating read

    This book truly made me rethink my eating/purchasing habits. The locavore movement seems like a really sustainable and beneficial lifestyle change that modern families can really take a part in without too much effort. You can grow a garden on your property or at a community garden, shop at farmers markets, eat grass fed, local meats...Kingsolver really makes this life seem attainable and because of this book I've rented a plot at my city garden.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    Thanks to the farmers of this country

    What an inspirational reminder that a farmer exists in all of us if we stop long enough to cultivate our soul. What struck me the deepest was the lack of our government's support of the non-corporate farmer. This summer will bring me to the farm market, canning and freezing of local produce. No vacation planned for August! Thank you Barbara for this gentle reminder of our roots.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 13, 2013

    Really, really enjoyed this book. I hope I took away enough to g

    Really, really enjoyed this book. I hope I took away enough to get started on my own local food journey and I imagine I'll read the book again someday soon to soak up more!

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  • Posted December 16, 2012

    Delicious book, makes you want to plant a garden wherever you ar

    Delicious book, makes you want to plant a garden wherever you are and live off the bounty.  Makes you appreciate where food comes from.  This book never fails to make me hungry.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2012

    Important

    It is so important that we get back to the ways of the land. This book hits the nail on the head. As a christian with a belief in a creator i can see the importance of a natural method the same way this book uses evolution just briefly for the same point. Wonderful read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2012

    Highly Recommended - excellent insight.

    Not what I thought it was going to be, but more than I expected! Rather than a blow by blow of their experiances, the family gives a nice account of why they made this choice and some of how the experiances affected them.

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  • Posted November 17, 2011

    Half Story, Half info

    The recipes were great, and the info was very helpful. I found it very interesting when she discussed eating meat, and why you might not have to be vegetarian in order to be environmental.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2011

    Interesting Read

    Non-fiction book about the author and family learning how to live sustainably in their own farm community. Book is interlaced with stories written by the author's children and articles regarding technical information from another party. The author tells of her struggles and accomplishments in this project over a years time. She also adds in some family recipes. Very inspiring but also brings about the idea how sad our society's industrial food system has become.

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  • Posted March 21, 2011

    Not just about food

    Kingsolver and her family decided to take control of their life by taking control of what sustains it -food. They move to a farm in Southwestern VA and spend a year growing their own food or eating locally. However, more than just advocating farm life and local eating, this book covered a wide range of topics including cooking and recipes, travel, connecting with your neighbors, and environmental concern. Balancing factual information, humor, and beautiful prose, Kingsolver makes this a memorable read. I've never read any of Kingsolver's fiction, but I'm convinced I want to - this book left me wanting more (as well as wanting Kingsolver's life.) If you've ever wanted to understand more about where you're food comes from, a reason to buy local food, or just a good story about life, this book is for you.

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  • Posted February 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    enjoyable

    Great read. Interesting and thought provoking yet light hearted. Remindes us to be aware of where and how our food gets to the table.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2010

    Interesting and Refreshing Read

    Barbara Kingsolver has been one of my favorite authors for years, and although this book was different than many of her previous novels, I found this book to be enlightening and well worth reading. The book casts an appreciative light on the food we put in our bodies and I have pulled from this book in my own personal gradening life.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Informative and Interesting

    This is very different from her other novels. She does a great job of making farming sound interesting and the book is filled with lots of interesting facts. It unexpectedly made me think differently about the foods I choose and how I eat. I also like how she integrated her daughter's inserts. It's really great how she raised her daughter to have the insight on how she eats.

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  • Posted November 24, 2009

    a new lease on food

    a colorful and familial story of undergoing a strictly organic diet. the great author kingsolver adopts an autobiographical role, describing both the amazing rewards of a healthy, conscientious way of eating, and the impact of an industrialized food culture. a great read that will educate and inspire those willing to accept the message

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2007

    Fair Game!

    Good to read for a basic foundation on recommendations for organic eating and lifesytle adjustments. An entertaining glance at diet/food as a daily necessity. I would rate it a three and half star book at least.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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