Skip to main content

Book Review: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver


Author Barbara Kingsolver and her family took a pledge several years ago to spend an entire year only eating food that they grow themselves or that is grown in their local area. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life is a sort of memoir of that year in which Kingsolver, her husband and her oldest daughter share stories about their year as well as their thoughts about the food industry in general.

The book is split into monthly chapters in which Kingsolver tells about the work they're doing on the farm, what they're planting or harvesting at that time of year, what their animals are doing, and what they're eating. It's actually quite interesting to hear what is actually in season in Virginia each month, and how they learn to be creative in terms of how they use the foods they grow. She also shares quite a lot of detail about the turkeys and chickens that they raise and harvest ~ in case you're a little squeamish, you may want to skip the chicken harvesting chapter!

About halfway through Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I was telling people that it had already changed the way my family eats. I went to the store and bought organic milk for the first time; I doubt I'll buy non-organic milk again. Reading this book also led to my choosing organic and heirloom seeds this year for my garden, and I've become more committed to buying the majority of our vegetables from the farmer's market (we already buy almost all of our meat and eggs from a local farm).

But I have to admit, I'm not ready to jump in as far as the Kingsolvers. And I couldn't. After all, I don't have a farm of my own! I do intend to cut back on processed foods but I don't expect we'll ever cut them out completely. I'll try to choose more organic foods and avoid GMOs as much as possible. And I may even try making cheese this year, but I doubt I'll go as far as giving up most fruits because they don't grow in my area of the country.

With all that said, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a dense book. I'm a book blogger. I read a lot of books. Yet it took me three weeks to get through this book, and I didn't pick up another book during that time! It just went on and on and on. It's one of those books that is very wordy, but I didn't want to skip over anything for fear of missing an interesting point. It is full of wonderful information, though. I particularly enjoyed the sections at the end of each chapter written by Kingsolver's daughter. She offers some interesting recipes as well. Kingsolver's husband provides some sidebars throughout the book on more policy and technical topics, but I found them hard to read since they were located within the middle of each chapter.

Overall, I'd recommend this book if you're interested in learning more about where your food comes from and how to eat more locally. But keep in mind that it will take a while to get through it. I am glad I read it. It has changed my life more than many other books I've read, and I expect I will refer back to it as I expand my own garden and look for more ways to provide my family with a healthy diet.

My Rating: 4/5

This review was written based on a copy of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle that I purchased.

Comments

  1. This book has been of interest to me since it came out, but I still haven't gotten around to reading it.

    We are definitely more focused on eating locally these days. Two years ago, we joined our local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), and I just love getting super-fresh, seasonal, organic veggies grown right down the road! It only runs from June through October, though, so we are stuck with supermarket offerings the rest of the year. I have changed my buying habits, though, and try to only buy US-grown produce - and local when I can find it.

    Thanks for the great review - I need to finally read this book!

    Sue

    Book By Book

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's how we get our meat - through a CSA. Luckily it runs all year. We haven't joined the produce CSA because we like to pick out veggies and fruits that we know we'll eat. We try to get to the farmer's market at least a few times a month. And we're very fortunate that it's also open all year. Of course, in the winter it's mostly greens and potatoes!

      Delete
  2. I liked this book until I didn't. I was really enjoying it until I just got to the point where I got tired of her lecturing. I'm glad I read it and I think about it often, but I can't recommend it wholeheartedly.

    My review is here: http://www.rosecityreader.com/2009/01/review-of-day-animal-vegetable-miracle.html

    I'd like to link your review to mine. If you don't mind, please leave a comment on mine with a link to yours and I will add it to my post.

    Rose City Reader

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have to agree that she does get a bit preachy at times. I think I would have enjoyed it more if it were cut down to about 2/3 the length.

      Delete
  3. I've recently moved to Ithaca NY where it's very easy to be green and local in your living choices so I'm trying to change my habits to take advantage of that. This books sounds a bit extreme, but it seems like it was still useful to you, so I might give it a try :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Somehow it has taken me two years to notice this comment! I went to school in Ithaca. It's a beautiful place and definitely an area where it's easy to be green!

      Delete

Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Popular posts from this blog

Getting back to blogging

It seems that blogging has dropped to the bottom of my list for the past year, and was pretty low for the year or two prior to that. I love to read, and am continuing to do so, but as my regular readers know I haven't been around much. My last blog post was almost a year ago!!

There are many things that have taken me away from blogging. Work has been much more challenging and interesting these past few years, but that means I really don't want to get back on the computer when I get home at night - or on the weekends.

Family life has been more busy with kids having multiple activities in the evenings, leaving little time to just hang out and write about the books that I read.

I will admit to a bit of a Facebook addiction, which means way too much time spent scrolling through my newsfeed instead of doing something more productive. This is one of the things I'm working on and hoping that this will free up some time for getting back to the blog.

Overall, life is good. Work is …

Book Review: The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett

Peter Byerly is distraught over the loss of his wife nine months ago. He has retreated to their cottage in the English countryside, hoping to return to his love of collecting and restoring rare books. But when he opens a book about Shakespeare forgeries and finds a Victorian watercolor of a woman who looks just like his wife, Peter is soon on a search for the origin of the painting and the truth about Shakespeare's real identity.

The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession by Charlie Lovett is a wonderful journey for anyone who loves books. It follows Peter's search in 1995, which turns into a bit of a thriller at times. But Lovett also takes the reader back in time a bit so we can learn the story of his relationship with his wife and how he came to be a bookseller. He does a beautiful job of expressing Peter's feelings about the rare books he encounters, and his feelings are contagious.

And then he takes us back even further to the history of one particular volume, whos…

Book Review: The Secret Lake by Karen Inglis

When Stella and Tom move to a new home in London, they are sad to have left their friends behind. But soon they have a mystery to solve. Their neighbor's dog, Harry, keeps disappearing. Where is he going and why is he always wet when he comes home? As they investigate the area in the garden where Harry seems to come and go, they discover a hidden tunnel that takes them back to their garden ... almost 100 years ago.

The Secret Lake by Karen Inglis is a wonderful children's book that reminds me of the adventurous stories I read as a child. I saw other reviewers say something similar. I'm not sure what it is about the way the story is told, but it is reminiscent of children's books from many years ago, yet it will definitely appeal to the kids of today.

Stella and Tom have an adventure in the past that leads to new friends and discoveries. While it's a time travel story, it doesn't have a lot of fantasy elements (although there are some moles that act a bit unusua…