Start Planting Your Way To A New Life

In this day and age, most families eat on the go. They have meals that can be thrown into the crock pot, microwave, or oven. Some families will order out and some families, if they do happen to eat at home, they might not sit at the table together to catch up on each other’s life. However, there are a few families that still eat at the table together and will make their own meals from scratch, together, as a family. Barbara Kingsolver, author of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, not only has her family help her cook meals, but  also grow their own foods at their home. What makes this book unique is how Barbara explains her mission, which was: buy local foods and grow what they can and live off of just that, for one year. Throughout this book, she also explains how she gets her garden ready to plant and eventually, harvest. There are also recipes throughout so that you, the reader, can also make your own local meal for your family. Another unique factor that you will not find in most books, is her family contributes to the book also.
When you first start reading Kingsolver’s novel and realize what her mission is, you might think that with two kids, they will stop buying locally and growing their own foods. After all, most people are busy running their kids to practices and busy with other school activities or work. However, that was not the case. Not only did her daughters Camille and Lily, and her husband, Steven agree to Barbara’s idea, but they also had fun doing it. Camille had fun planting and finding new recipes that she could use whenever they had a abundance of something, zucchini or squash, these recipes were found in the novel along with Camille’s thoughts on their new way of life. Lily had fun getting chicks and bees and eventually would sell the eggs or honey, so she could get herself a horse. Lily learned that in order to get something she wanted, she would have to work for it. By learning this lesson, she realized that she would have to give up some of her chickens. She said to her family at dinner, “eggs and meat. We’ll only kill the mean ones.” [101] Camille learned the valuable lesson that hard work pays off. In one of her own entries, Camille states, “this has been one of the best meals of my life, not only because it was so delicious, but because all of this food came from plants we watched growing from tiny seeds to jungles.” [197] Towards the end of the novel, Barbara starts talking about the struggles, such as killing an animal needed for meat for the winter or the weeds that are overpowering the garden. By the time you are done reading, it inspires people to start trying to grow their own foods and also to try to start buying locally.
When I was reading this, I thought of a couple of things. My first thought was, it is impossible for a family with a teenager and a little girl to only buy local and grow their own foods. Another thought was that I was able to relate to Barbara’s struggles when it came to weeding the garden. The ability for a weed to grow so fast, sometimes overnight it seems, amazes me. By the end of the novel, I was inspired and am now planning on growing a lot of different things in my garden soon and cannot wait for the outcome. I learned that, even though there are some ups and downs towards buying local and growing your own food, it is possible. It might be tough at times, but it is not impossible like I thought it was.
Personally, I think all families should at least try to live like this. One comment that really stuck out to me was, “many people working in one kitchen is, by itself, a certain definition of family, after people have made their separate ways home to be together.” [137] I cannot remember the last time where my family sat down at the table and talked about different things going on in one another’s life. It is a little upsetting that  a lot of families do not sit together at the dinner table or even on the weekends. Currently, this family might seem irregular, because who eats together at a dinner table, plans out the meals for every day of the week together, plants together, harvests together, and basically does everything together and does not get tired of one another? Not a lot of families can say that. Hopefully, this type of living like Kingsolver’s family, will  be a regular way for families to live in the future.
This book is an awareness and an informative or an education novel. It raises awareness towards families and where their food comes from and how it got there. It also lets readers be aware that this one year journey is not impossible at all. You can have fun with it, such as having a birthday party where it is only local foods, including the desserts and also being able to see baby turkeys entering the world and the struggles of taking the first few steps. It also is informative, there are gardening tips on how to start your garden and where to start it, when to put a paper plate under a vegetable or fruit so the bugs do not get to it before you can, and recipes that the family created are also factors that make this novel successful.
I would recommend this book to anyone. I have mentioned it to a few family friends, who looked at me weird like I was nuts. However, I tried to persuade them to read it and give the book a chance. Gardeners can pick up a ton of tips from Kingsolver’s book and can learn a lot of new things also. Barbara explains in the beginning that “our family was changed by one year of deliberately eating food produced in the same place where we worked.” [28] This statement is not only true, but if you want to be able to make your own foods from scratch with things that you grew yourself and involve your family in the whole process, read this book. You will find many tips on how the idea came about, how it started out, how you can teach your kids about local foods and how they grow, and many other tips in order for your family to grow a little bit closer while you are eating locally and healthy.

[1] Kingsolver, Barbara; Kingsolver, Camille; Hopp, Steven L.. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. New York: Harper Collins, 2007. ePub edition.

[2] Kingsolver (2007), 101.

[3] Kingsolver (2007), 197.

[4] Kingsolver (2007), 137.

[4] Kingsolver (2007), 28.

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