Barbara Kingsolver, as a novelist, is an acquired taste. But as a writer of nonfiction, she is practically without peer. When Ann and I, no particular fans of the author of The Poisonwood Bible and many other bestselling fiction books, first heard about the year and the book she had planned, we were intrigued. Fortunate enough to be able to read the book a few months ago, we grew excited, even trying to book Kingsolver for a visit to New Albany.
Alas, the visit won't be happening any time soon, but the book released on Tuesday, and we've stocked up on Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. If you thought Omnivore's Dilemma or Twinkie, Deconstructed gave you insight into the food we eat, your mouth will water at this chronicle of a year living off the land. The Kingsolvers (her husband Steven L. Hopp, and her daughter Camille Kingsolver are coauthors) make "a passionate case for putting the kitchen back at the center of family life and diversified farms at the center of the American diet."
The family swore off "the industrial-food pipeline," exchanging it for a one-year spiritual and journalistic vow to buy only food raised in their own neighborhood, or by themselves at their newly purchased farm in the Shenandoah Valley, or do without. With great humor, they regale us with stories of turkey sex, overzealous zucchini, and an admirable food culture that nourishes community.
As much as possible, Ann and I are trying to modify our diets to support sustainable, diversified local farms. The infrastructure isn't in place yet, and we will NOT be moving to a farm, but we're dedicated to doing all we can to see to it that our food comes from somewhere we can visit. It's good for us and it's a boon to the environment and our local society.
We invite you to enjoy this roadmap. It's no dry recital. It's not a preachment to guilt you into eating better. It is an honest portrayal of one family's investigation of what our future will require.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver, et al
ISBN 9780060852550 HarperCollins (Hardcover) 363 pp. $26.95
Cucumber Yogurt Soup
8 small-medium cucumbers, peeled and chopped
3 cups water
3 cups plain yogurt
2 tablespoons dill
1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice (optional)
1 cup nasturtium leaves and petals (optional)
Combine ingredients in food processor until smooth, chill before serving. Garnish with nasturtium flowers.