Friday, September 12, 2008

Pre-Book Review: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Why haven’t I read this book? I don’t know. It’s been on the bestseller lists, both in hard cover and paperback, since it published more than a year ago. And I love reading about food and sustainability and sticking it to the Processed Food Man.

When this book first came out, in Spring 2007, I was intrigued. In it, novelist and essayist Barbara Kingsolver and her family spend a year growing their own food or only eating local. The reviews I’d read were glowing, and the brief essays I’d read by Kingsolver in other publications, including a Mother Jones article about modern organic farming and the politics involved, were stellar. At the time it published, though, I was feeling too cheap to spring for the hardcover edition. So I held out.

And then a department assistant I adored announced she and her fiancé were moving to the West Coast. As a thank-you gift, she gave me this book, even though we’d never talked about it. So I started reading.

Almost immediately I found myself pregnant and sickly, and I truthfully couldn’t care less about eating local. So the book’s been sitting in my living room pile of unread books for a about a year. Recently I'd started eyeing it again.

Yesterday my mother-in-law called and in the conversation asked if I’d read this book. She'd read it and loved it, and thought I’d enjoy it as well. “Funny you should ask,” I said, relaying how I had a copy and had gotten sidelined.

Then last night I checked my high school alumni site and found that the sister of my best-friend- in-high-school had left me a message. Judy, my friend’s sister, was the type to screech like a school girl if she broke a nail. I remember one time when she stepped in dog mess and moaned and complained incessantly; I thought we might have to get her new shoes. So it was a surprise to learn that she’s now living on acreage, raising bees and selling honey at the local farmer’s market, and dreaming of moving her family to a true farm with working animals. After I read her profile and pulled myself off the floor, I sent her an article by my beloved Michael Pollan about what could be causing the decrease in honeybees. Since then, we've written back and forth a little about sustainability and food choices. Last night she sent a message asking if I’d read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and praising the zucchini chocolate chip cookie recipe.

So one random gifting and two unrelated recommendations in the same day lead me to believe that the sustainability gods are telling me I need to read this book. I picked it back up before bed and got through about four marvelous pages before konking out -- a result of Sylvia being up four times the night before, not a boring text. I can’t wait to get back to it tonight.

Has anyone read it? Thoughts? Any other food writing of note?



Anonymous Leneta said...

Here I am, the mother-in-law mentioned above. AVM, as I've come to call it, will gradually change my life. I hurried to my local farmer's market and bought local vegetables, used one of the recipes in Kingsolver's book (so far) and bought 2 additional copies from my local independent bookseller to give away to friends, and have even lifted quotes to use in connection with the current political campaign. Wanna hear the recipe?
Summer Potato potage
2 lb new potatoes, cut in 1" hunks
3 T olive oil / coarse salt
2 yellow &/or red bell peppers, cut in hunks
2 c. green beans, 1" lengths
1-2 ears sweet corn.
Toss potatoes w/salt & oil & spread on baking sheet. Roast in 450 degree oven till tender (20-30 min total). Place ears of corn, lightly oiled w/potatoes after about 10 min, then peppers & gr beans for last 10. When done, loosen veggies w/spatula, cut corn from cob & combine in large,shallow bowl. Then add 2 c. tomatoes cut in wedges, 1/2 c. fresh basil (I had to use dried), & 1/4 c. olive oil whipped together w/ 1 T balsamic vinegar. Toss all together.
Now it happened to be a very hot day so my husband Larry and I did it all in a Weber grill with good results so we wouldn't have to use the oven.
By request, I'll even pass along the political-related quote.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Slowish Food said...

I haven't hit that section yet, Leneta, but this sounds SO good. I'm going to give it a whirl this weekend after I hit the farmer's market. Thanks! (Also, for anyone reading this, you can get all the book's recipes at

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