Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver…a review

Who would have thought that a story depicting a year in the life of a family farming their own food, could not only be entertaining, but also entice me; a well documented insect phobia-ist, to have my own garden complete with whatever forms of life this may bring? This is a remarkable feat.

I never before thought of the food I eat in terms of what all is required to grow produce out of season, or the carbon footprint that is left behind when it is then shipped to a faraway, final destination. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle also discusses exactly what has to be done to those fruits and veggies to make them so travel friendly. It is pretty unbelievable when you think about how much trouble we go to as a society to ensure that we always have strawberries, or tomatoes, or oranges, or any other produce at our fingertips despite the lack of authenticity (taste) that inevitably follows such maneuvering.

Two summers ago, I backpacked through Greece and Italy.  Unlike some of my previous International experiences, we did not have a “home base” to return to each night. We were continually on the move, eating fairly cheap, and did not really have the vernacular to ask locals for food recommendations. We ultimately chose places that seemed welcoming and did the best we could. And I think we did pretty well, because I will never forget the Greek salads that I found myself eating day after day. I have had Greek salads before, in the United States, but they tasted nothing like these. I cannot recall a previous tomato eating experience that left me so satisfied.

I tell this story because it stands out as an exceptionally good vegetable eating experience, and I wonder why I don’t have more like it. And this is coming from someone who most likely eats way more fruits and veggies than anyone else she knows. Sure I have recipes to make anything taste good, but what about pure, fresh, produce that has absolutely nothing but good stuff in them.

That is what this book is all about. Kingsolver and clan committed to one full year of living off of their own garden, their farmers’ market, and other local farms. And they did it with relative ease once they started.

This book is truly a wealth of information, and the saddest part to me is that most people will never even read anything like it, because most can’t see how this lifestyle can fit into their own. Understood, but it is nonetheless another great Kingsolver read, and I can’t even begin to detail all the intricacies of our nations’ complex food web. Kingsolvers’ family does it quite well though.

Additionally, Camille, Kingsolver’s daughter, provided family recipes while Steven Hopp, Kingsolvers’ husband, provided much needed background and facts, complete with many, many websites describing exactly why they had made specific decisions regarding their diet.

The book is good, read it. And here are some links that are of interest too! is a website about locally organic grown foods across the United States. is a website about living organically. is a website about biodiversity and global impact. farming: little farms versus big. protecting family farming from large corporations (Not just a music festival) discusses how to make sure those growing the crops we eat are actually being compensated fairly. includes components of healthy eating for kids.

And of course the book’s website full of recipes and links such as these!!


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