Barbara Kingsolver – Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Author: Barbara Kingsolver with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver
Title: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
Published: April 2007
Publisher: HarperCollins
Length: 352 pages
Genre: Food memoir
Why I picked it up: Browsing Amazon for ‘food’ books, this one looked good
Rating: 3.5 stars
Challenges: 100+ | Foodie’s 
Buy: Barnes and Noble | Chapters | Check your local bookstore!

This is the first book I’ve read this year that I picked out specifically for a challenge and wasn’t planning on reading before I discovered said challenge. I suppose the whole point of a challenge is to discover new books you wouldn’t have otherwise and I’m glad that I came across this book.  Sidenote: I’m a tad exhausted right now and feeling a little scatterbrained, so this review might show that ^^;

Animal, Miracle, Vegetable is the story of one family’s year-long foray into eating locally, mainly off of food grown by themselves on their Appalachian farm. Barbara, the mother of the family, writes most of the book. Her husband and eldest daughter provide sidebars, with Steven writing about ways the ‘average person’ can become more involved, including with links to learn more, and Camille writing short essays about a teenager’s perspective (the next generation, that’s going to have deal with the brunt on the mess of climate change [my generation, eep!]) and recipes to conclude each chapter. I enjoyed this set up, it was heartwarming in a way to see a whole family work together on a book like this and Steven and Camille’s pieces really filled out the knowledge contained in this book. The younger daughter, Lily, was too young to write anything for the book but she was an important character in this story. The acknowledgements at the end conclude with ‘And we thank Lily for absolutely everything – plus eggs. If you think she’s a charming character in this book, you should see her walk out the front door.’ I enjoyed the balance of the saga of living on the farm and the snapshots into different areas of the food industry (such as GMOs, meat production, education, etc.). There’s something for everyone in this book.

My favourite aspect of this book is probably the tone that Barbara told her story in. Read: I liked how she didn’t come off preachy. It is so easy for someone in her situation, who has the vantage point to preach to the masses that how she does things (i.e., buy local, organic, etc.) is the right and best and only way. I didn’t get that at all from this book. The author(s) explained their decisions and backed up those decisions, but there wasn’t any ‘If everyone does not starting living like we do, the world will end.’ I felt more like she and her family wanted to tell their story so that other people, people like me who are stuck in the city and not really paying attention to how they eat, could see that there are other options.

For me, this book is the straw that broke the camel’s back. For the past year or two, I’ve been making little lists, notes to self, etc. about how I want to live my life when I’m out and on my own, however many years off that time may be (I’m one of those people who yearn for and thrive on independence XP). In a few weeks, I’ll be turning 19. Year one of being an official adult complete. When I put it that way, I got kind of fed up with myself. I shouldn’t have to wait until I move out to change my lifestyle. I can start now and it’s really more important than ever on a global scale that I do start now. I’m starting by trying to replace store-bought foods with homemade ones (ex. this week I made granola bars and chocolate pudding. When my sister approves these recipes, there’ll be no reason to by individual packaged puddings and granola bars for school lunches. I can make them, they’ll be cheaper, cut down on waste and tastier.). Then when summer comes around, I’m going to start looking for more environmentally or people friendly (ie. fair trade) ingredients to make these foods with. Anyhow. Enough about that. That’s a post for my other blog 😛 The point is, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle inspired me to make these changes and I think that’s a very good thing.

  • Thank you so much for this review! I am going to put this on my wishlist!