If I forgo these plantain chips from the supermarket and buy homemade ones from the lady at church, does that make me a better person? In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver speaks about the transition from eating industrially to consuming locally and homegrown food. She and her husband along with their two children leave the industrial eating industry in Tucson, Arizona and move to Kentucky to live on a farm and hopefully make a life of eating organically. The book speaks of the trials and tribulations of her family’s transition. It is a memoir and journalistic investigation, as the back cover says but at what point does it stop being journalistic and start becoming biased? “Oh, America the Beautiful, where are our standards?”1 Kingsolver states facts about the food industry, but most of the time, the snobbish tone of the book seems to try to sway the reader to pack up, buy a farm, and move to Appalachia.
Barbara Kingsolver was raised in Kentucky, where farming was very prominent. To city-slickers like me, we’re raised on supermarket produce without a single thought on where that produce comes from and how it was handled. The point being is that we don’t care, but Kingsolver really wants us to. Maybe we just want to go to a diner and order the greasiest burger on our cheat day. “At any price, it’s an unusual experience to order a diner burger that does not come with a side of feedlot remorse.”2 It’s little remarks like this that makes the reader feel like they should look up farm listings and the cost of fertilizer. This book’s snobby tone overpowered the informative purpose. “My husband and I decided our children would not grow up without knowing a potato has a plant part.”3 I’m pretty sure science class at some point explains the anatomy of a plant, no manual farm labor required. At one point Barbara Kingsolver smuggles in pumpkin in her hotel room. “At worst, they might tell us it’s doo-doo because it was grown in a different province.”4 Why does Kingsolver think the Italians at her hotel would think this way? With her assuming they would be snobby just shows her snooty mindset.
This isn’t a Bash-Barbara-Free-For-All. Those of us who don’t care about eating locally and organically probably are a part of the problem. However, what will the pesticides to do us in the long run? Will the workers ever be paid fairly, or will the CEO’s keep profiting on a family’s livelihood? Kingsolver does in fact make good points about at the very least inquiring about the food we consume. A little less snobbery would just be appreciated.
1 Kingsolver, Barbara. “1.” Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. New York: HarperCollins, 2007. 4. Print.
2 Kingsolver, Barbara. “10.” Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. New York: HarperCollins, 2007. 149. Print.
3 Kingsolver, Barbara. “1.” Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. New York: HarperCollins, 2007. 21. Print.
4 Kingsolver, Barbara. “15.” Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. New York: HarperCollins, 2007. 256. Print.