Friday, August 20, 2010

ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE – Barbara Kingsolver

Monday was Jay County Public Library book group and this was our chosen title. Pretty good show this time! There were nine of us and discussion went pretty well. Most of us had read Kingsolver's novels and they are delightful. Many of us agreed that our favorite of her novels was The Poisonwood Bible. Animal, Vegetable however, is a work of nonfiction. It chronicles one complete year for the Kingsolver family after they move from Arizona to Virginia to live upon only locally grown food. It is a book to make you think about your food and what the complete cost of every morsel is.

I don't think there is an issue that isn't examined when it comes to food production. She tackles corporate farming, CAFOs, processed foods, pesticides and hormones in farming, transportation of foodstuffs, exotic imports, farm subsidies, taxes to support the food industry, vegetarianism and much more.

This is truly a thought-provoking work. I spent many hours in hmmmm mode thinking about chapters and ideas. She definitely made me think about how much meat we eat. By the time I finished the chapter on carnivory I felt better though. She had many statistics on the price of eating only vegetables when you add up the cost of fossil fuels used to get it to you, the resources depleted growing it in hostile environs, the packaging etc. While it is a known fact that Americans need to eat less meat, it isn't actually helping the unprivileged in any way to do so like so many try to tell us. According to Kingsolver anyway.

Her style is as usual engaging with delightful storytelling and a rich vocabulary. Her family is intelligent, dedicated to each other and to their experiment. I believe the author's aim is to make us more aware of our food and our impact on our world by what we choose to consume. Also she would like us all to get better in touch with our environment including our neighbors in order to be productive and helpful. Their year was filled with a lot of joy, much learning, and some travail. Overall, it was a very good read for nonfiction which isn't my usual fare.

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