The Miracle Worker

Some random thoughts about Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

  • I think it should be a rule that books about food should be written by fiction writers as opposed to scientists or even journalists. Kingsolver is just better at describing everything, and she has the skill to make it all interesting, as opposed to dry and clinical. In terms of inspiring people to eat locally, or grow a garden, it needs to be about more than food miles or vitamins. Kingsolver makes it a spiritual quest, and I think there needs to be more emphasis on that.
  • However… lady sure can get preachy, which, after you’ve read a dozen or more books all espousing the eat local philosophy, sure can get annoying.
  • OMG – y’all discussed eating locally while on vacation in Montreal, but drove back to the US via Niagara Falls with nary a peep about Niagara wine? For shame!!!
  • Inspirations – to bake bread at least a couple of times a week (although not with a bread machine as Kingsolver’s husband does), learn to make my own cheese, and stock my freezer and pantry with the summer’s bounty to last throughout the winter. Join a CSA if I can figure out how to get to one to do my required work time given that I don’t drive.

  • Annoyances – yet again, someone who preaches eating locally but won’t give up her coffee. Makes her daughter’s friend feel bad for wanting a banana. We can’t just back out of global trading patterns without it having a repercussion on the economy, both locally and internationally. Yes, we need to keep local farmers in business, but there are lots of other local jobs that would be lost if we stopped importing produce. The answer just isn’t that easy.
  • Loved the chickens, and the chapter about the turkeys not knowing how to nest and take care of their eggs. Not so much the chicken slaughter bits, but that’s life on a farm and Kingsolver is honest about the experience.
  • Loved the seasonality of their menus, and their delight and joy at each new item as it came into season. This is something that everyone can and should be able to relate to.
  • Ultimately, while really well-written, with a few gems of inspiration that will translate to the average person, the idea of leaving behind city life and living on a farm where you grow all your own food is really quite romanticized. Who doesn’t have that dream? It’s great that Kingsolver’s family managed to do it, more power to them. But it’s not a realistic option for the majority of the population, and as such, this fiction-writer’s non-fiction book will come across as more fiction than reality.