Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (HarperCollins, 2007) chronicles the struggles and triumphs from author Barbara Kingsolver's first year of living and eating 100% locally.
After deciding to leave Tuscon and its frustrating food culture, Kingsolver and her family set up shop on a family farm in rural Virginia.
They plant and nurture a year's worth of produce and carefully put away of portion of the harvest to sustain them through the lean winter months. They raise a small army of chickens, turkeys, and goats, and they turn to local farmers to fill in the blanks where their own farm can't provide. Interwoven within Kingsolver's narrative are scientific asides from her husband and stories from her daughter, reinforcing the fact that living locally took the combined effort of her whole family.
Though her situation is rather unique (not all of us have a family farm in Virginia to fall back on!), we love that Kingsolver makes her experience universal. We can see how she integrates eating locally into her everyday life and we can draw parallels in our own lives. Her side stories about the efforts of local farmers and visits to people like the Cheese Queen in Massachusetts remind us to take advantage of the resources that are available to us wherever we live.
Kingsolver keeps her focus on what we can be actively doing rather than just what's wrong with our food situation in America. And since we're cooks, we're happy to report that the seasonal recipes included in the book look fantastic--recipes like "Asparagus and Morel Bread Pudding" and "Basil-Blackberry Crumble" have us counting the days until the farmer's markets open.
If you haven't read this book yet, we definitely recommend picking up a copy. Her "year of food life" begins in April and proceeds seasonally, so now is a good time to start reading and get inspired for your own year of local eating.
• You can also see a lot of good discussion on this book over at our green and sustainable home site - re-nest. This was their Book Club pick recently and they just finished discussing. You can see all their book posts here.
More on Eating Locally from the Kitchn:
• Hungry Planet: What the World Eats
• Conscientious Cook: Local Foods for Local Schools
• Conscientious Cook: Sustainable Distance Eating
• How to Start a New CSA: Interview with Paula Lukats of Just Food
• CSA = Community Supported Agriculture
Photo credit: HarperCollins Publishers
This is by Emma, who is up for one of our new writer positions. Welcome Emma!