Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver is about one family’s journey to living a rural life and sustaining themselves from their personal garden and farm animals. This piece of literature is a memoir, informational and educational. It’s a tough book to get through because of the detailed informational portions, yet it’s still very intriguing. I learned a lot of facts about food that I had never even thought to consider; such as eating foods that are in season.
The process of growing your own food and being self sufficient is something I believe we all could do if we wanted to go through such lengths. This family completely relocates to start anew, but many people are not willing to make such a commitment. However, Kingsolver offers a profusion of information to point us in the right direction so we may make little changes in our own lives. For example in chapter two she educates us on the life of asparagus and the many ways we can incorporate this short lived vegetable into our meals. “The moment the asparagus neck goes under the knife, an internal starting gun fires “Go!” and it begins to decompose, metabolizing its own sugars – because it knows no other plan – to keep growing. It’s best eaten the day it is cut, period (Kingsolver, 30). She goes on to explain how time effects the plant and causes the tight buds to loosen and changes the sweet taste to bitterness.
Camille Kingsolver also offers a memoir to us about The truth About Asparagus. In this piece she enlightens us of the delicate way aspargus must be prepared. “When asparagus is rolling in from the garden every day, the simplest way to prepare it is a quick saute over high heat. This technique caramelizes the sugars and brings out the very best of the asparagus flavor (Kingsolver, 41). At the end of her memoir she also includes a Late Winter Meal Plan, ways her family would incorporate this vegetable into their weekly meals. After this chapter I started to think a lot about asparagus outside of my reading. When I would be at the grocery I would wonder how long ago had the stem been cut? Where had this plant come from? It caused me to become just a bit more conscious of the source of my vegetables.
This book is a brilliant combination of a memoir and an educational/informational piece. I think this blend worked well for kingsolver, because the informational parts served as the evidence to her motives and statements. It allowed the reader to fully comprehend why she decided to make this drastic change of relocating and why she was very particular about where she even got her seeds from. “Freed from limits of natural sex, the gene engineer may combine traits of creatures that aren’t on speaking terms in the natuaral world: animal or bacterial genes spliced into chromosomes of plants… the ultimate unnatural product of genetic engineering is a “terminator gene” that causes the crop to commit genetic suicide after one generation…(kingsolver, 47)” Here she is explaining how companies have begun to genetically modify seeds so they may control the outcomes and life span of the seeds. Therefore, increases their profits by creating seeds that have the “terminator gene.” If she had just made the entire book a memoir I don’t believe it would have the impact it did on readers and it wouldn’t be a bestseller.
This journey seemed to effect her family in a positive way. Her children were brought into the whole process at a young age and were fortunate to learn good eating habits early in life. It is clear by the collaboration with her daughter on this book, that those habits have carried on into her adult life. It also seemed to show them the value of food, which many Americans take for granted. Most of all, they are not ignorant to the lies our food industries have fed us.
If you’re interested in learning about food in all sense of the word: the seed, the process of growth and the many ways you can incorporate them into your meals. Or maybe you just want to learn about growing your own food; then this is the book to read. This book taught me more about the sources of my food and how to eat “what’s in season.” It also encouraged me to further my knowledge about healthy eating, because I felt as if I was able to take what I learned and apply it in my daily life.