Eating Local -Jamie Mosher

Barbara Kingslover and her family take on a year long quest to eat organic and eat local, or grow it themselves. In “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” you follow along on the family’s journey to survive on local products. After reading this, I believe that it was a very informative narrative that still preserved that novel feel of stories and entertaining quips.

The family went through many trials and tribulations throughout the year, like the longing for fresh fruits on the cold months and the overload of of various things while they were in season, like the overload of squash in chapter 12 “Garrison Keillor says July is the only time of year when country people lock our cars in the church parking lot, so people won’t put squash on the front seat. I used to think that was  a joke.” [1] The young Lily learned the difference between pets and livestock when she made the decision to sell some of the roosters for meat which would yield higher profit. She wanted to make her hobby of chicken raising into a real business, and a business all her own. She declared that she would pay back all the startup costs to her mother because “I want the business to be really mine, not just some little kid thing.” [2] Her mother, barbara learned that her whole family was gaining from their experience as she thought to herself near the end of the book, referring to Lily eating a orange as  treat in the off season: “Luck is the world, to receive this grateful child. value is not made of money, but a tender balance of expectation and longing.” [3] That quote really stuck with me personally. My area of study is a part of the arts and I have had that feeing of value in something that I have personally taken the time to create. I am grateful for art because I know the efforts that go into it.

This story was pretty inspirational and really got me thinking about my future and how I want to nourish myself. From what I learned about the food industry and huge factory farms, I want to actively contribute to the local food industry of real farmers and real organic products. This experiment as it could be called is possible for “normal” people to do as well. Maybe not to the extent of the Kingslovers, but it could be enough to revive local agriculture and dependence on mediocre produce. In an excerpt by Steven Hopp, he says this: “If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week.” [4] That is an amazing fact to me that caught my attention and had me thinking about it through the whole book. Normal people can find local markets and begging to weed out the produce that eats up our fossil fuels every day, fossil fuels that will be gone one day. Buying things from the farmers markets that you would normally get at the grocery store will do a LOT for local foods if everyone did it. Making small changes will bring about a revolution of sorts just as much as sudden shift; you do not need to go completely local organic.

I think “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” has a lot of humor. it is a non-fiction novel that is sort of like a memoir of a year on the life of the Kingslover family. It’s not a glossy fiction version of something that sort of happened, but almost like a biography of plants by the seasons that carry you through the next winter. It is a creative non-fiction that collages Barbara’s, Steven’s, camille’s and even little Lily’s ideas and interpretations throughout. The book is good at unveiling the transformation from grocery store to garden fed.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in organic eating, but may not know much about the local aspect of eating organic. This would have a great impact on those people that buy organic food that has been shipped across the world, which is still detrimental to the environment due to it consumption of fossil fuels to get to the store. Organic and local organic can be two different things entirely. In regards to factory farmed produce and empty calory filled foods of our culture, Barbara had this to say about the US compared to other food cultures: “Other well-fed populations have had better luck controlling caloric excess through culture and custom: Italians eat Italian food, the Japanese eat Japanese, and so on, honoring ancient synergies between what their land can give and what their bodies need.” [5]

[1] Kingsolver, Barbara, Steven L. Hopp, Camille Kingsolver. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. New York: Harper Collins, 2007. 188. Print.

[2] Kingsolver (2007), 279.

[3] Kingsolver (2007), 287.

[4] Kingsolver (2007), 5.

[4] Kingsolver (2007), 15.

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