Saturday, January 10, 2009

Become a Locovore: and other lessons from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

As a follow up to my Greener Way to Read post, I wanted to let you know about a book I downloaded to my Amazon Kindle, and loved so much because it is more than just a book. It is all at once a reference for living, a recipe book, a starting point for those considering living more earth-friendly and a memoir.

This great book I am speaking of is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (P.S.) by Barbara Kingsolver.

At the crux of this book, renowned Novelist Kingsolver chronicles the year that her family decided to eat 100% locally. They ate only the food they could grow or buy from other local farmers. They did this for a number of reasons: to see if they could do it, to eat healthier food free of preservatives and grown in soil they knew, to try and cut down the amount of fossil fuels burnt in relation to the delivery of their food (the statistics regarding how much fuel can be saved if every american family ate one "locally grown" meal per week is astounding!), and to support the local farmers and growers instead of faceless corporations and Government-sponsored conglomerates.

And added benefit is that the whole experience heightend the family's repsect of nature, they learned how to subsist solely by their own merits, and became closer through the whole year. The youngest daughter even created her own Egg-selling business as a way to handle the extra eggs her faithful hens had laid!

Smattered throughout the book are numerous recipes offering both unique meals and healthy alternatives (that don't taste like you're eating healthy). There is even a whole section on making your own cheeses. Anybody that has ever tasted fresh mozzerella knows that the store bought, dried out, over-packaged mozzerrella just can't hold a candle to the fresh, homeade heaven called Mozzerella. And it is not nearly as hard to do as one might think.

I read the book this past summer, barely in time to get a few seeds growing, so inspired was I.

What I can tell you is that I managed to grow a few baby eggplants. I say baby, becasue they were nowhere near the size of the monsters you can pick up at any grocery store. They were shinier on the outside (what you are supposed to go by as the "when to pick" criteria) and the difference in taste was AMAZING. Fresher, more tender, tastier. I picked one, sliced it into circles, batter dipped it and fried it. I almost made myself sick, I ate so much of it.

Needless to say, I already have some seeds waiting for spring, and after I finish this post, I can be found sitting on my couch with a Park Seed catalog and my drawing pad (planning my garden, dontcha know!)

Kingsolver is right, store bought veggies can't hold a candle to something grown in the dirt in your own backyard. Sprinkled in this book, though not enough to be overbearing or irritating, are various economic, social and health benefits of putting local foods at the center of your family's table, and Kingsolver's husband is a wealth of relevant information as well.

Parts of it read like a how-to guide: Choosing and raising livestock, gardening and harvesting, supporting local farmer's markets, turkey sex, heirloom and endangered livestock breeds, and planning for the winter season ahead of time. You name it, and Kingsolver probably has something to say about it in this book.

Anyone interested in doing things a little better for yourself or your family should find this an interesting read, and one you're sure to keep around to refer to occasionally. And I really haven't given this book justice for the space I have.

For more information:

Park Seed Seeds

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