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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Cover of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

A Year of Food Life
Borrow Borrow Borrow Borrow

Bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver returns with her first nonfiction narrative that will open your eyes in a hundred new ways to an old truth: You are what you eat.

"As the U.S. population made an unprecedented mad dash for the Sun Belt, one carload of us paddled against the tide, heading for the Promised Land where water falls from the sky and green stuff grows all around. We were about to begin the adventure of realigning our lives with our food chain.

"Naturally, our first stop was to buy junk food and fossil fuel. . . ."

Hang on for the ride: With characteristic poetry and pluck, Barbara Kingsolver and her family sweep readers along on their journey away from the industrial-food pipeline to a rural life in which they vow to buy only food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. Their good-humored search yields surprising discoveries about turkey sex life and overly zealous zucchini plants, en route to a food culture that's better for the neighborhood and also better on the table. Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle makes a passionate case for putting the kitchen back at the center of family life and diversified farms at the center of the American diet.

"This is the story of a year in which we made every attempt to feed ourselves animals and vegetables whose provenance we really knew . . . and of how our family was changed by our first year of deliberately eating food produced from the same place where we worked, went to school, loved our neighbors, drank the water, and breathed the air."

Includes an excerpt from Flight Behavior.

Bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver returns with her first nonfiction narrative that will open your eyes in a hundred new ways to an old truth: You are what you eat.

"As the U.S. population made an unprecedented mad dash for the Sun Belt, one carload of us paddled against the tide, heading for the Promised Land where water falls from the sky and green stuff grows all around. We were about to begin the adventure of realigning our lives with our food chain.

"Naturally, our first stop was to buy junk food and fossil fuel. . . ."

Hang on for the ride: With characteristic poetry and pluck, Barbara Kingsolver and her family sweep readers along on their journey away from the industrial-food pipeline to a rural life in which they vow to buy only food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. Their good-humored search yields surprising discoveries about turkey sex life and overly zealous zucchini plants, en route to a food culture that's better for the neighborhood and also better on the table. Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle makes a passionate case for putting the kitchen back at the center of family life and diversified farms at the center of the American diet.

"This is the story of a year in which we made every attempt to feed ourselves animals and vegetables whose provenance we really knew . . . and of how our family was changed by our first year of deliberately eating food produced from the same place where we worked, went to school, loved our neighbors, drank the water, and breathed the air."

Includes an excerpt from Flight Behavior.

Available formats-
  • Kindle Book
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
  • PDF eBook
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
    1160
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:
    8 - 9

Recommended for you


 
Awards-
Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    Called Home

    This story about good food begins in a quick-stop convenience market. It was our family's last day in Arizona, where I'd lived half my life and raised two kids for the whole of theirs. Now we were moving away forever, taking our nostalgic inventory of the things we would never see again: the bush where the roadrunner built a nest and fed lizards to her weird-looking babies; the tree Camille crashed into learning to ride a bike; the exact spot where Lily touched a dead snake. Our driveway was just the first tributary on a memory river sweeping us out.

    One person's picture postcard is someone else's normal. This was the landscape whose every face we knew: giant saguaro cacti, coyotes, mountains, the wicked sun reflecting off bare gravel. We were leaving it now in one of its uglier moments, which made good-bye easier, but also seemed like a cheap shot—like ending a romance right when your partner has really bad bed hair. The desert that day looked like a nasty case of prickly heat caught in a long, naked wince.

    This was the end of May. Our rainfall since Thanksgiving had measured less than one inch. The cacti, denizens of deprivation, looked ready to pull up roots and hitch a ride out if they could. The prickly pears waved good-bye with puckered, grayish pads. The tall, dehydrated saguaros stood around all teetery and sucked-in like very prickly supermodels. Even in the best of times desert creatures live on the edge of survival, getting by mostly on vapor and their own life savings. Now, as the southern tier of U.S. states came into a third consecutive year of drought, people elsewhere debated how seriously they should take global warming. We were staring it in the face.

    Away went our little family, like rats leaping off the burning ship. It hurt to think about everything at once: our friends, our desert, old home, new home. We felt giddy and tragic as we pulled up at a little gas-and-go market on the outside edge of Tucson. Before we set off to seek our fortunes we had to gas up, of course, and buy snacks for the road. We did have a cooler in the back seat packed with respectable lunch fare. But we had more than two thousand miles to go. Before we crossed a few state lines we'd need to give our car a salt treatment and indulge in some things that go crunch.

    This was the trip of our lives. We were ending our existence outside the city limits of Tucson, Arizona, to begin a rural one in southern Appalachia. We'd sold our house and stuffed the car with the most crucial things: birth certificates, books-on-tape, and a dog on drugs. (Just for the trip, I swear.) All other stuff would come in the moving van. For better or worse, we would soon be living on a farm.

    For twenty years Steven had owned a piece of land in the southern Appalachians with a farmhouse, barn, orchards and fields, and a tax zoning known as "farm use." He was living there when I met him, teaching college and fixing up his old house one salvaged window at a time. I'd come as a visiting writer, recently divorced, with something of a fixer-upper life. We proceeded to wreck our agendas in the predictable fashion by falling in love. My young daughter and I were attached to our community in Tucson; Steven was just as attached to his own green pastures and the birdsong chorus of deciduous eastern woodlands. My father-in-law to be, upon hearing the exciting news about us, asked Steven, "Couldn't you find one closer?"

    Apparently not. We held on to the farm by renting the farmhouse to another family, and maintained marital happiness by migrating like birds: for the school year we lived in Tucson, but every summer headed back to our rich foraging grounds, the farm. For three months a year we lived in a

About the Author-
  • Barbara Kingsolver's work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has earned a devoted readership at home and abroad. She was awarded the National Humanities Medal, our country's highest honor for service through the arts. She received the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for the body of her work, and in 2010 won Britain's Orange Prize for The Lacuna. Before she made her living as a writer, Kingsolver earned degrees in biology and worked as a scientist. She now lives with her family on a farm in southern Appalachia.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 30, 2007
    In her engaging though sometimes preachy new book, Kingsolver recounts the year her family attempted to eat only what they could grow on their farm in Virginia or buy from local sources. The book's bulk, written and read by Kingsolver in a lightly twangy voice filled with wonder and enthusiasm, proceeds through the seasons via delightful stories about the history of their farmhouse, the exhausting bounty of the zucchini harvest, turkey chicks hatching and so on. In long sections, however, she gets on a soapbox about problems with industrial food production, fast food and Americans' ignorance of food's origins, and despite her obvious passion for the issues, the reading turns didactic and loses its pace, momentum and narrative. Her daughter Camille contributes recipes, meal plans and an enjoyable personal essay in a clear if rather monotonous voice. Hopp, Kingsolver's husband and an environmental studies professor, provides dry readings of the sidebars that have him playing “Dr. Scientist,” as Kingsolver notes in an illuminating interview on the last disc. Though they may skip some of the more moralizing tracks, Kingsolver's fans and foodies alike will find this a charming, sometimes inspiring account of reconnecting with the food chain. Simultaneous release with the HarperCollins hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 26).

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from March 26, 2007


    Reviewed by Nina Planck

    Michael Pollan is the crack investigator and graceful narrator of the ecology of local food and the toxic logic of industrial agriculture. Now he has a peer. Novelist Kingsolver recounts a year spent eating home-grown food and, if not that, local. Accomplished gardeners, the Kingsolver clan grow a large garden in southern Appalachia and spend summers "putting food by," as the classic kitchen title goes. They make pickles, chutney and mozzarella; they jar tomatoes, braid garlic and stuff turkey sausage. Nine-year-old Lily runs a heritage poultry business, selling eggs and meat. What they don't raise (lamb, beef, apples) comes from local farms. Come winter, they feast on root crops and canned goods, menus slouching toward asparagus. Along the way, the Kingsolver family, having given up industrial meat years before, abandons its vegetarian ways and discovers the pleasures of conscientious carnivory.
    This field—local food and sustainable agriculture—is crowded with books in increasingly predictable flavors: the earnest manual, diary of an epicure, the environmental battle cry, the accidental gardener. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
    is all of these, and much smarter. Kingsolver takes the genre to a new literary level; a well-paced narrative and the apparent ease of the beautiful prose makes the pages fly. Her tale is both classy and disarming, substantive and entertaining, earnest and funny. Kingsolver is a moralist ("the conspicuous consumption of limited resources has yet to be accepted widely as a spiritual error, or even bad manners"), but more often wry than pious. Another hazard of the genre is snobbery. You won't find it here. Seldom do paeans to heirloom tomatoes (which I grew up selling at farmers' markets) include equal respect for outstanding modern hybrids like Early Girl.
    Kingsolver has the ear of a journalist and the accuracy of a naturalist. She makes short, neat work of complex topics: what's risky about the vegan diet, why animals belong on ecologically sound farms, why bitterness in lettuce is good. Kingsolver's clue to help greenhorns remember what's in season is the best I've seen. You trace the harvest by botanical development, from buds to fruits to roots.
    Kingsolver is not the first to note our national "eating disorder" and the injuries industrial agriculture wreaks, yet this practical vision of how we might eat instead is as fresh as just-picked sweet corn. The narrative is peppered with useful sidebars on industrial agriculture and ecology (by husband Steven Hopp) and recipes (by daughter Camille), as if to show that local food—in the growing, buying, cooking, eating and the telling—demands teamwork. (May)

    Nina Planck is the author of
    Real Food: What to Eat and Why (Bloomsbury USA, 2006).

  • Washington Post Book World

    "Charming, zestful, funny and poetic...a serious book about important problems."

  • Houston Chronicle

    "Charming . . . Literary magic . . . If you love the narrative voice of Barbara Kingsolver, you will be thrilled."

  • Chicago Tribune

    "ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE makes an important contribution to the chorus of voices calling for change.""

  • Tucson Citizen

    "If you...buy...one book this summer, make it this one...As satisfying and complete as a down home supper."

  • Corby Kummer, New York Times Book Review

    "Engaging...Absorbing...Lovely food writing...[Kingsolver] succeeds at adopting the warm tone of a confiding friend."

  • Los Angeles Times

    "A lovely book. "

  • Rocky Mountain News

    "[Written] with passion and hope...This novelist paints a compelling big picture-broad and ambitious, with nary an extraneous stroke."

  • Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    "Homespun, unassuming, informed, positive, inspiring. . . . Unstinting in its concerns about this imperiled planet."

  • Rick Bass, Boston Globe

    "A profound, graceful, and literary work . . . Timeless. . . . It can change who you are."

  • Publishers Weekly (starred review)

    "Classy and disarming, substantive and entertaining, earnest and funny....Kingsolver takes the genre to a new literary level."

  • Kirkus Reviews

    "Kingsolver elegantly chronicles a year of back-to-the-land living...Readers...will take heart and inspiration here."

  • More Magazine

    "Kingsolver beautifully describes this experience."

  • Outside magazine

    "Kingsolver dresses down the American food complex...These down-on-the-farm sections are inspiring and...compelling."

  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch

    "Equal parts folk wisdom and political activism . . . This family effort instructs as much as it entertains."

  • Raleigh News & Observer

    "Full...of zest and sometimes ribald humor... Reading this book will make you hungry."

  • Washington Post

    "Every bit as transporting as-and more ecologically relevant than-any "Year In Provence"-style escapism...Earthy...informative....[and] englightened."

  • St. Petersburg Times

    "An impassioned, sensual, smart and witty narrative...Kinsolver is a master at leavening a serious message with humor."

  • Chicago Tribune (on the audiobook)

    "Wry, insightful and inspiring to anyone who yearns to work with the earth."

  • Christian Science Monitor

    "Kingsolver...adds enough texture and zest to stir wistful yearnings in all of us...[A] vicarious taste of domesticity."

  • The Oregonian (Portland)

    "A terrific effort. The delight for readers...is the chance to experience the rediscovery of community through food."

  • Miami Herald

    "Kingsolver, who writes evocatively about our connection to place, does so here with characteristic glowing prose. She provides the rapture."

  • Charlotte Observer

    "If you're interested in learning more about healthful eating, you'll want to read...ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE."

  • Entertainment Weekly

    "Loaded with terrific information about everything from growth hormones to farm subsidies."

  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    "Kingsolver carries us along in her distinct and breezy prose."

  • Bookreporter.com

    "I defy anyone to read this book and walk away from it without gaining at least the desire to change."

  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    "Charming...and persuasive...Each season-and chapter-unfolds with a natural rhythm and mouth-watering appeal."

  • Roanoke Times

    "Anyone who read and appreciated THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA by Michael Pollan will want to read Barbara Kingsolver's book."

  • Richmond Times-Dispatch

    "[This] is a book that, without being preachy, makes a solid case for eating locally instead of globally."

  • Ellen Goodman, Boston Globe

    "Highly digestible...Engaging."

  • Charlotte Observer

    "Other notable writers have addressed this topic, but Kingsolver claims it as her own....Self-deprecating instead of self-righteous."

  • Chicago Tribune

    "Delectable . . . steeped in elegant prose and seasoned with smart morsels about the food industry."

  • Chicago Sun-Times

    "ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE is a chronicle of food feats...I'm inclined to agree with most points Kingsolver makes."

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