Book Review of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Homesteading is not a stagnant lifestyle. It is constantly evolving. Each step is a genuine mystery that has a tendency to unfold unexpectedly thus leading us to another interesting pursuit.

The knowledge that we gain along the way is as important as any harvest. In hind sight I am able to gauge specific instances in which my stride lengthens momentarily. Every so often I discover a book or an author who displays information in a manner that resonates to the root of my soul yet until reading their literature I had been unable to find a voice for the specific notion.

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to read such a book. Though written nearly 10 years ago I read it for the first time this month. I am talking about Animal, Vegetable, Miracle ~A Year of Food Life~ by Barbara Kingsolver.

An amazing book. The general premise is that the authors family of four move from the food desert of Arizona to the lush farmland of southern Appalachia and decide to eat local and raise their own food for one year. When one takes the time to think about such a venture it really is staggering since we, as a society, are so dependent on "someone else" for our food.

That is the short description. The long review is that this is a life changing read. It covers everything from the Orwellian Farm Bill that does very little to support local farms to the issue of heritage breed livestock and their ever decreasing numbers. It addresses the often overlooked issue that food is political whether you want it to be or not. It is social, it is environmental and in its most basic form it the building block of family and the love they share throughout weekly meals and their yearly traditions. It expresses the fact that food is hard work and each meal has consequences though usually out of sight and out of mind. From cover to cover it is poetic, sad, funny and infuriating.  

Kingsolver's attention to detail is obvious and her research shines through. She is able to balance this with a sly sense of humor. Her husband, Steven L. Hopp, contributes with important social commentary and her oldest daughter Camille Kingsolver provides examples of their yearly meal plan.

On some level it is difficult for me to express how important a book like Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is. If you have a library card read it for free. If you have some jingle in your pocket add it to your collection, I did, it is that good.


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