Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

4.1 185
by Barbara Kingsolver, Steven L. Hopp, Camille Kingsolver
     
 

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Bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver returns with her first nonfiction narrative that will open your eyes in a hundred new ways to an old truth: You are what you eat.

"As the U.S. population made an unprecedented mad dash for the Sun Belt, one carload of us paddled against the tide, heading for the Promised Land where water falls from the sky and

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Overview

Bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver returns with her first nonfiction narrative that will open your eyes in a hundred new ways to an old truth: You are what you eat.

"As the U.S. population made an unprecedented mad dash for the Sun Belt, one carload of us paddled against the tide, heading for the Promised Land where water falls from the sky and green stuff grows all around. We were about to begin the adventure of realigning our lives with our food chain.

"Naturally, our first stop was to buy junk food and fossil fuel. . . ."

Hang on for the ride: With characteristic poetry and pluck, Barbara Kingsolver and her family sweep readers along on their journey away from the industrial-food pipeline to a rural life in which they vow to buy only food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. Their good-humored search yields surprising discoveries about turkey sex life and overly zealous zucchini plants, en route to a food culture that's better for the neighborhood and also better on the table. Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle makes a passionate case for putting the kitchen back at the center of family life and diversified farms at the center of the American diet.

"This is the story of a year in which we made every attempt to feed ourselves animals and vegetables whose provenance we really knew . . . and of how our family was changed by our first year of deliberately eating food produced from the same place where we worked, went to school, loved our neighbors, drank the water, and breathed the air."

Includes an excerpt from Flight Behavior.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
★ 02/01/2014
Moving from Arizona to Southern Appalachia, Kingsolver and her family resolve to spend a year eating only locally grown and sourced food. (LJ 4/1/07)
Korby Kummer
What is likely to win the most converts, though, is the joy Kingsolver takes in food. She isn’t just an ardent preserver, following the summertime canning rituals of her farming forebears. She’s also an ardent cook, and there’s some lovely food writing here.
— The New York Times
Bunny Crumpacker
This is a serious book about important problems. Its concerns are real and urgent. It is clear, thoughtful, often amusing, passionate and appealing. It may give you a serious case of supermarket guilt, thinking of the energy footprint left by each out-of-season tomato, but you'll also find unexpected knowledge and gain the ability to make informed choices about what -- and how -- you're willing to eat.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

In her engaging though sometimes preachy new book, Kingsolver recounts the year her family attempted to eat only what they could grow on their farm in Virginia or buy from local sources. The book's bulk, written and read by Kingsolver in a lightly twangy voice filled with wonder and enthusiasm, proceeds through the seasons via delightful stories about the history of their farmhouse, the exhausting bounty of the zucchini harvest, turkey chicks hatching and so on. In long sections, however, she gets on a soapbox about problems with industrial food production, fast food and Americans' ignorance of food's origins, and despite her obvious passion for the issues, the reading turns didactic and loses its pace, momentum and narrative. Her daughter Camille contributes recipes, meal plans and an enjoyable personal essay in a clear if rather monotonous voice. Hopp, Kingsolver's husband and an environmental studies professor, provides dry readings of the sidebars that have him playing "Dr. Scientist," as Kingsolver notes in an illuminating interview on the last disc. Though they may skip some of the more moralizing tracks, Kingsolver's fans and foodies alike will find this a charming, sometimes inspiring account of reconnecting with the food chain. Simultaneous release with the HarperCollins hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 26). (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
School Library Journal

Adult/High School -This book chronicles the year that Barbara Kingsolver, along with her husband and two daughters, made a commitment to become locavores-those who eat only locally grown foods. This first entailed a move away from their home in non-food-producing Tuscon to a family farm in Virginia, where they got right down to the business of growing and raising their own food and supporting local farmers. For teens who grew up on supermarket offerings, the notion not only of growing one's own produce but also of harvesting one's own poultry was as foreign as the concept that different foods relate to different seasons. While the volume begins as an environmental treatise-the oil consumption related to transporting foodstuffs around the world is enormous-it ends, as the year ends, in a celebration of the food that physically nourishes even as the recipes and the memories of cooks and gardeners past nourish our hearts and souls. Although the book maintains that eating well is not a class issue, discussions of heirloom breeds and making cheese at home may strike some as high-flown; however, those looking for healthful alternatives to processed foods will find inspiration to seek out farmers' markets and to learn to cook and enjoy seasonal foods. Give this title to budding Martha Stewarts, green-leaning fans of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth (Rodale, 2006), and kids outraged by Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation (Houghton, 2001).-Jenny Gasset, Orange County Public Library, CA

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
With some assistance from her husband, Steven, and 19-year-old daughter, Camille, Kingsolver (Prodigal Summer, 2000, etc.) elegantly chronicles a year of back-to-the-land living with her family in Appalachia. After three years of drought, the author decamped from her longtime home in Arizona and set out with Steven, Camille and younger daughter Lily to inhabit fulltime his family's farm in Virginia. Their aim, she notes, was to "live in a place that could feed us," to grow their own food and join the increasingly potent movement led by organic growers and small exurban food producers. Kingsolver wants to know where her food is coming from: Her diary records her attempts to consume only those items grown locally and in season while eschewing foods that require the use of fossil fuels for transport, fertilizing and processing. (In one of biologist Steven's terrific sidebars, "Oily Food," he notes that 17 percent of the nation's energy is consumed by agriculture.) From her vegetable patch, Kingsolver discovered nifty ways to use plentiful available produce such as asparagus, rhubarb, wild mushrooms, honey, zucchini, pumpkins and tomatoes; she also spent a lot of time canning summer foods for winter. The family learned how to make cheese, visited organic farms and a working family farm in Tuscany, even grew and killed their own meat. "I'm unimpressed by arguments that condemn animal harvest," writes Kingsolver, "while ignoring, wholesale, the animal killing that underwrites vegetal foods." Elsewhere, Steven explores business topics such as the good economics of going organic; the losing battle in the use of pesticides; the importance of a restructured Farm Bill; mad cow disease; and fairtrade. Camille, meanwhile, offers anecdotes and recipes. Readers frustrated with the unhealthy, artificial food chain will take heart and inspiration here.
Ellen Goodman
“Highly digestible…Engaging.”
Corby Kummer
“Engaging…Absorbing…Lovely food writing…[Kingsolver] succeeds at adopting the warm tone of a confiding friend.”
Rick Bass
“A profound, graceful, and literary work . . . Timeless. . . . It can change who you are.”
MoreMagazine
"Kingsolver beautifully describes this experience."
Outside Magazine
"Kingsolver dresses down the American food complex…These down-on-the-farm sections are inspiring and…compelling."
People Magazine
"Provocative . . . Kingsolver . . . evokes the sheer joy of producing one’s own food."
Self
“Lessons learned in sustainability are worth feasting on-and taking to heart.”
People
“Provocative . . . Kingsolver . . . evokes the sheer joy of producing one’s own food.”
Chicago Tribune (on the audiobook)
“Wry, insightful and inspiring to anyone who yearns to work with the earth.”
Tucson Citizen
“If you...buy...one book this summer, make it this one...As satisfying and complete as a down home supper.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Equal parts folk wisdom and political activism . . . This family effort instructs as much as it entertains.”
Houston Chronicle
“Charming . . . Literary magic . . . If you love the narrative voice of Barbara Kingsolver, you will be thrilled.”
Entertainment Weekly
“Loaded with terrific information about everything from growth hormones to farm subsidies.”
Raleigh News & Observer
“Full…of zest and sometimes ribald humor… Reading this book will make you hungry.”
Rocky Mountain News
“[Written] with passion and hope…This novelist paints a compelling big picture-broad and ambitious, with nary an extraneous stroke.”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Charming...and persuasive...Each season-and chapter-unfolds with a natural rhythm and mouth-watering appeal.”
St. Petersburg Times
“An impassioned, sensual, smart and witty narrative…Kinsolver is a master at leavening a serious message with humor.”
Chicago Sun-Times
“ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE is a chronicle of food feats…I’m inclined to agree with most points Kingsolver makes.”
Washington Post
“Every bit as transporting as-and more ecologically relevant than-any “Year In Provence”-style escapism...Earthy...informative....[and] englightened.”
Chicago Tribune
“Delectable . . . steeped in elegant prose and seasoned with smart morsels about the food industry.”
Outside magazine
“Kingsolver dresses down the American food complex…These down-on-the-farm sections are inspiring and…compelling.”
Roanoke Times
“Anyone who read and appreciated THE OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA by Michael Pollan will want to read Barbara Kingsolver’s book.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch
“[This] is a book that, without being preachy, makes a solid case for eating locally instead of globally.”
Miami Herald
“Kingsolver, who writes evocatively about our connection to place, does so here with characteristic glowing prose. She provides the rapture.”
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“Homespun, unassuming, informed, positive, inspiring. . . . Unstinting in its concerns about this imperiled planet.”
Los Angeles Times
“A lovely book. ”
More Magazine
“Kingsolver beautifully describes this experience.”
Washington Post Book World
“Charming, zestful, funny and poetic…a serious book about important problems.”
Daily News
“[Kingsolver is] a master storyteller, and even those who’ve heard this tale before will be captivated.”
Bookreporter.com
“I defy anyone to read this book and walk away from it without gaining at least the desire to change.”
Christian Science Monitor
“Kingsolver…adds enough texture and zest to stir wistful yearnings in all of us...[A] vicarious taste of domesticity.”
Charlotte Observer
“Other notable writers have addressed this topic, but Kingsolver claims it as her own....Self-deprecating instead of self-righteous.”
BookPage
“Faithful, funny, and thought-provoking...Readers-whether vegetarian or carnivore-will not go hungry, literally or literarily.”
The Oregonian (Portland)
“A terrific effort. The delight for readers…is the chance to experience the rediscovery of community through food.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061795831
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/13/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
64,928
Lexile:
1160L (what's this?)
File size:
2 MB

What People are saying about this

Corby Kummer
“Engaging…Absorbing…Lovely food writing…[Kingsolver] succeeds at adopting the warm tone of a confiding friend.”
Rick Bass
“A profound, graceful, and literary work . . . Timeless. . . . It can change who you are.”

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