Have you read “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle?” I’ve long considered Barbara Kingsolver one of the best American authors. I adore her work, have written fan letters, stumbled all over myself with inappropriate fan-girl questions the one time we met, and did I mention adore her? A little bit.
I’ve had two of her books on my shelf for some time collecting dust. “Animal Vegetable Miracle” is the year-long memoir Kingsolver wrote chronicling what she, her husband and two children were able to raise on their small farm in Virginia, or buy locally. The mission was to eat only what they could produce or find in their community. While there are a few exceptions to their rule, they work tirelessly to raise small animals, harvest a huge garden and keep their menus varied and healthy.
A friend mentioned to me years ago that she found this book excessively preachy. And to some degree, I get it. There are parts that read like a political textbook, lecturing the reader about energy conservation, obesity, mindless consumption, etc. Such social issues are what inspired Kingsolver and kin to take on this project. Considering I beat myself up for just about everything and had already given a self-lashing on these topics — when it got to sanctimonious, I turned the page.
Where I found inspiration was in the family’s pantry preparation. The woman can plan, plant, harvest, cook and can a garden. She also wasn’t squeamish to raise chickens and birds for meat. She and her family killed and prepared the meat — some for the dinner table that night, others for the chest freezer. While I can grow a mean tomato, I am not sure I could ever kill my own meat. Let’s be honest, the three chickens that I never even had a chance to bring home already had names. They were cherished members of this little homestead’s family. And so, the weight of this inability weighs on my shoulders to be a better consumer of locally raised, ethically “grown” meat.
My biggest take-away is a renewed spirit to be a better consumer of all products. While I may not be able to actually run a proper homestead, my little home’s garden is valuable. Eating what’s in season is critical. Hanging my clothes on the line to dry, riding my bike to complete errands, being frugal and resourceful with purchases — reusing rather than falling into the culture of buy-buy-throw-away-buy-some-more! These small acts are not going to stop global warming, but they are steps to make my life a bit more environmentally friendly. So, thanks Barbara. Did I mention I’m kinda your #1 biggest fan?
4 out of 5 bananas