A Review of “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver

In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver and her family decide to go on a year-long adventure, trying to consume food only grown locally or food that they have grown themselves because they were tired of relying on major companies to supply them food and figured it would be a healthier way to live. My thoughts on their year-long journey are that I am surprised they lasted the entire year and that it is a great experience for them to understand all of the efforts and hard work it takes to be a successful farmer.

They definitely learned how to eat properly and healthily.  On page 337, Kingsolver says, “We had undertaken a life change partly as a reaction against living in a snappily-named-diet culture; now this lifestyle had its own snappy diet name: “The 100-Mile Diet Challenge!” What a shock”.[1] This quote explains how Kingsolver changed her life from a comfortable life style where her and her family could eat whatever they wanted to a hardworking yet healthy lifestyle where they can only eat food that has been produced locally or grown themselves.  Using their experiences, I learned that anything is possible as long as you have the resolve to do it. You just need to have the patience necessary in order to do it. I learned that food corporations have a giant hold on society. Without them, it would be very difficult to survive. It made me think if food corporations failed for some reason, like if there was an economic collapse, fuel shortage, or a terrorist attack that took out factory farming and other food corporations, my family would be in trouble.  We have no idea on how to grow our own food, and we rely too much on these food corporations.

Aspects of their experiment that are possible for “regular” people include having a garden that can grow basic things that anyone can get at a grocery store such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, etc. I don’t think everyone could actually raise a farm like Kingsolver and her family because there is not enough land, and because the economy wouldn’t let them afford it. It is also possible to decrease the consumption of processed food and buy organic and natural foods from local areas.

This book is a memoir of Kingsolver’s year-long journey of her life as working as a farmer. Genres include creative nonfiction and memoir. The memoir aspect of this book blends very well with the nonfiction aspect because Kingsolver is using real-life events to tell her story, and she uses factual information to accompany it, so the reader has a better understanding. For example, she says, “Flowering plants come in packages as different as an oak tree and a violet, but they all have a basic life history in common. They sprout and leaf out; they bloom and have sex by somehow rubbing one flower’s boy stuff against another’s girl parts. Since they can’t engage in hot pursuit, they lure a third party, such as bees into the sexual act—or else (depending on species) wait for the wind”.[2] This quote is Kingsolver’s version of how flowers reproduce and she uses this with her observations of flowering plants on the farm.

I recommend this book to those who are interested in food issues that are going on in today’s society or farming. This book gives a great personal account on the process on how to become a successful farmer along with all of the thoughts and feelings while taking on such a difficult task, and I think it could be useful to a reader who enjoys this kind of topic by showing them what each experience was like for the characters, giving them some insight on farming and how society is too reliant on food corporations. On page three, Kingsolver talks about the place where she used to live, Tucson, Arizona, and how people rely on companies to provide them food since it is too hot to really grow anything. She says, “As it closes in on the million-souls mark, Tucson’s charms have made it one of this country’s fastest-growing cities… By  all accounts it’s a bountiful source of everything on the human-need checklist, save for just one thing—the stuff we put in our mouths every few hours to keep us alive”.[3] This quote is a good example of how people are not self-sufficient and need large companies to help them survive.

-Emily Leto


[1] Barbara Kingsolver, Steven L. Hopp, Camille Kingsolver. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. New York: HarperCollins, 2007. 337. Print.

[2] Kingsolver (2007), 63-64

[3] Kingsolver (2007), 3

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About eleto428

Hello! I am Emily. You can call me Emily or Em, doesn't really matter to me. Some things you may not know about me are: I am opened-minded, I enjoy almost every sport, I am artistic, I love trying to make people laugh along with trying to make them happy, I will do my best to help others, and I'm a tad shy. Religion is not something I believe in. Instead, I have my own values that takes its place. I love Korean and Japanese pop and rock music, and I enjoy writing stories. Also, I am really interested in anime and manga. :P
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