Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was very well written and enjoyed it at the end. At first I thought it was boring, I struggled to get through the first couple chapters. However once Kingsolver and her family’s adventure began I could not put the book down. The Kingsolver’s adventure sounded extremely exciting at times and the use of imagery made it even better. Then there were parts that began to become documentary and listed facts and procedures, “Early humans independently followed the same impulse wherever they found themselves, creating small agricultural economies based on the domestication of whatever was at hand.” (178).
Kingsolver’s family was able to adapt well to the “food life”. During their trip in June the Kingsolver’s visit some old friends in Ohio. Kingsolver’s youngest daughter, Lily, comes up a lot in the book, “Lily went out to the chicken coop to gather eggs, making herself right at home…” (168) Animal, Vegetable, Miracle seemed it was a life changing experience that one must be dedicate to and must be willing to change. After reading about their journey, I was inspired to change my eating habits and wanting to learn about where the food I eat comes from. Although I thought the book was boring at first, I did learn a lot from reading this book and not just about the food but other cultures. Foreigners and Americans a like have wondered what is “American food”. “If you ask a person from Italy, India, Mexico, Japan, or Sweden what food the United States has exported to them, they will all give the same answer, and it starts with a Mc.” (155) Many people may think this when in fact, “We just don’t get credit for this as American food because vegetables are ingredients. The California broccoli would be diced into Asian stir-fries, tossed with Italian pasta primavera, or served with a bowl of mac-and-cheese, according to the food traditions of us housewives.” (157)
In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Kingsolver talks about her family’s journey and provides the reader with information, while making the book attention grabbing. If I would place this book in a genre or several genres or several genres, I would say it is a biography/documentary with an adventure twist. The Kingsolver’s literally travelled across the country in order to do their experiment and then took a vacation, travelling to Canada and Ohio. Kingsolver also hints at her childhood and events prior to their experiment. “My kids find this hard to believe, but when I was a child I’d never heard of zucchini. We knew of only one kind of summer squash: the yellow low crooknecks we grew copiously in our garden.” (185)
There are many things that can be taken from the Kingsolver’s experiment, that the “regular” person could do. Some things people could do are, limiting the amount of processed food. Trying to bake your own meals instead of buying microwavable or oven ready food. If you have the space and time try growing a little garden and grow the basic vegetables like tomatoes. If you do not have the space try going to farmers’ markets and buying “locally”.
I would indeed recommend this book to people who are interested in learning about organic farming and living off the land. In each chapter there is an article and recipes that are related to the corresponding chapter. It is the type a book that starts off dry and difficult to get into. However once you are a few chapters in, you will not be able to put the book down.