A Dash of Motivation Tossed with a Pinch of Honesty


If you are looking for some inspiration mixed with brutal truth Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life is for you. Barbra Kingsolver wrote this book documenting her family’s food transformation. Kingsolver includes her daughter and husband and her own opinion on eating only homegrown or local foods. Her daughters Camille and Lily matured through the book and learned about self-control. Kingsolver explains how it’s all about your attitude when making changes. “The most difficult requirements are patience and a pinch of restraint.” [1] This way of thinking could be applied to any type of life change you are making. In no way is this way of thinking only appropriate to food decisions. The family also gained a better understanding of each other and the importance of working together. “The greatest rewards of living in a farmhouse are the stories.” [2] They gained shared stories that they will talk about for the rest of their lives. Kingsolver makes the point, in the end, those experiences is what it was all about.

The Kingsolver family gained experience in the local food market and the farming processes. Kingsolver shares that knowledge with the reader so they will not make the same mistake. Chapter 18 is titled “What Do You Eat in January?” Kingsolver and her family face some obstacles in this chapter and become aware they are not as well prepared for their commitment to eat local or homegrown foods. She shares her discouraging situation with her readers. She says “If you’re reading this in midwinter and that is your solution, put the thought away. Just never mind, come back in six months. Eating locally in winter is easy. But the time to think about that would be in August.” [3] She shares her hard times with us so we can avoid them and be successful when applying her message to our own lives.

This book got me thinking about simple everyday choices. The most important part Kingsolver is trying to make is that self control and smart choices will make a difference. “The main barrier standing between ourselves and a local-food culture is not price, but attitude.” [4] This got me thinking about how Kingsolver’s way of thinking could be applied to any situation. She made sacrifices for what she thought was important, eating local and homegrown. I found her book motivational because if her family could accomplish this I could accomplish my goals too.

In the book Kingsolver, her husband and two daughters are all in this process together. It is interesting to read how they learn together and all react differently to the different situations. Kingsolver is encouraging this type of family bonding by providing numerous facts and resources in her book to help if you decide to apply her message to your life. At the end of the chapters Kingsolver includes recipes. This just goes to show how closely you can apply this book to your own life. Kingsolver is inviting you to share the same dinner she had with her, not many books offer connections like that.

I really like how Kingsolver pairs her storybook style with factual excerpts from her husband Steven L. Hopp at the end of each chapter. In a way the story acts as an introduction. These two styles work well together because the personal story is easy to make connections to and the factual excerpt adds important information. The factual excerpts are not very attention grabbing but necessary in proving her point. I enjoy reading the stories. The narrations at the beginning of the chapters serve as an example of the facts that are later to come.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a comforting family story that has a good message. If you are thinking about making any type of change in your life I recommend reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life for some inspiration and brutal honesty. The chapters are broken up appropriately. The way the storybook style is combined with factual excerpts makes it easier understand. This book is informational but is also entertaining because of the heartwarming family stories.

-Haley Kershaw

[1] Kingsolver, Barbara, Steven L. Hopp, Camille Kingsolver. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. New York: Harper Collins, 2007. 31. Print.

[2] Kingsolver (2007), 41

[3] Kingsolver (2007), 309

[4] Kingsolver (2007), 13

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