Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Review

    By: Erica Dunton

Eating healthy can mean to simply change the way you eat, or cut back on how much you eat. Eating healthy or trying to eat healthy can be the easiest yet hardest thing to do, Why? because as a society we tend not to think about what we are eating or where the food is coming from. In the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, we can come to a better understanding of local farmers and where our food is coming from. The story follows the life of Kingsolver, her husband Steve, and their two children Lily and Camille on a year long journey of eating healthy and eating all homegrown foods.

The family has gained the experience of really knowing where all their food comes from. I think her daughters have gained the most experience in their journey. They both have matured all the way throughout, grasping a better idea of farm life. At the start of the book (their journey), Lily always wanted her own chickens to raise and act as a mother figure. At the end of their journey her dream comes true. “We have babies.” [1] Lily runs outside to gather grass for the turkey so it can eat. In chapter twelve we can really see how Camille has grown throughout their journey. She becomes interested in cooking meals and getting dinners prepared with her mother. The whole family gained experience through only getting their foods from local farm markets or from the farms themselves. Kingsolver always learned through farming ever since she was a little girl, and only eating home-grown foods.

My experience from this book that I gained was how I came to realize how some people really live their lives and plan out every meal of their day. Makes me think about all the bad foods I eat. I learned that not everyone can live that kind of lifestyle. It is almost impossible. It takes numerous hours of planning and a lot of time. The quote “According to USDA records from the 1990’s, farms less than four acres in size had an average of $1,400 per acre.”[2] It really goes to show the decline in the farming industry. This book kind of got me thinking about how in today’s society, the story of Kingsolver and her family is pretty much unheard of and almost unrealistic. I will explain later what I mean by that.

I think the only aspect of this experience that is possible for regular families is to 1) buy foods from local farmers markets, and 2) have your own garden. When I say this book is kind of unrealistic, I mean that most families can not do what their family has done. There is not enough land, and most families in today’s society, can not afford it. We are too busy to plan out our every meal, and to go out and make sure all our food comes from farmers. Most children today go to school all day and do not have the luxury of sitting at home with mom all day picking vegetables in the garden, and preparing shopping lists for the store.It is just unheard of in our society. Was it possible years and years ago, yes because moms did not work and children could stay home. If a family has already grown up on a farm or lives on a farm them yes, this would be considered “regular.” Most of the farm land now a days is being used to build up housing developments, and not for growing crops. I think it would be impossible to live the way Kingslover and her family did. Yes, we can make better food choices buying from the local farmers market, but not doing what they did.

I think this book is meant to inform readers about healthier lifestyles and the life of farming. Kingslover uses good non-fictional metaphors to grab or attention. I liked how she talked about how flowers reproduce. “Flowering plants come in packages, but they all have basic life history in common. They bloom and have sex somehow rubbing one flower’s boy stuff against other girl’s parts, and wait for the wind” [3]. She does a great job in painting a picture in the readers mind, and blends them together so smoothly.

I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about the farming process, and to get a better understanding of where or foods really come from. Kingsolver does a good job telling her story of her journey as a farmer woman, and providing useful information. This book can be a form of success depending on what the reader is trying to get out of it. It is a success in that it deals a lot with farming and how a family achieved a year long goal they set out to do. I like Kingsolver quote on page 13, “The main barrier standing between ourselves and a local- food culture is not price, but attitude” [4]. I do believe if we change our attitudes about the foods we eat, we could be healthier, but money and price will always be an issue. If you want to embark on a informational journey about farming, this is the book for you.

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

[1] Kingsolver (2007), 351

[2] Kingsolver (2007), 84

[3] Kingsolver (2007), 3

[4] Kingsolver (2007), 3

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