Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Spaghetti is NOT a vegetable.

Having just finished reading 'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle ~ A Year of Food Life' by Barbara Kingsolver, I am still processing the wealth of information which I read over the last month. This book was a slow read for me – not because I was bored but I believe that to do justice to this book one has to read slowly and digest each morsel.

There were times when I was truly inspired. I could not wait to go out and plant my own bed of asparagus in my fledgling garden so to the local garden store I went. I wanted to taste fresh asparagus as Kingsolver describes it in her book. I grabbed the first clerk I could and impatiently told her how I wanted to buy asparagus plants for my garden – quickly. I think she smirked at me as she shook her head ‘no’ and started to turn away. Whoa there – I need to start my Barbara Kingsolver asparagus bed NOW – what do you mean ‘no’?
“If you wanted to plant asparagus beds you should have done it a month ago – at least.”

Oops. I then tried to rein in my excitement as I read and I resisted ordering heirloom turkeys immediately. Maybe next year.

This book is considered a memoir but should also be considered as a serious textbook/reference book at the high school/college level. It is interesting how it was written as a family affair with her daughter and husband. To be honest it was Kingsolver’s writing style which allowed this book to flow as well as it did. Her husband writes with a technical style which did not always hold my focus. I enjoyed the recipes which her daughter offered but would caution the whole family against being a tad judgmental at times.

I did wonder more than once about whether or not their ‘experiment’ would have worked if they had stayed in Arizona. I wondered about the message their book might send to those not fortunate enough to be able to up and move to the fertile Appalachians.

The ‘vegetannual’ is a powerful teaching tool and would make a beautiful poster/print. I would have used it for the cover of the book. Now, whenever I shop, I stop and think about the vegetannual and I converse with myself about the distance that kiwi had to travel to sit on my local grocery store shelf.

This book would be the perfect book club read. I frequently wished I had someone to discuss various issues with, ask the many questions that came to mind and share my reflections with others.

Whether or not you agree with every word in this 352 page memoir, I think you have to respect Kingsolver for using the power of her words to force people to stop and think about our food and its origins. While one might not be inspired to run out and plant an asparagus bed, let me leave you with some food for thought: 'If every American family chose to eat just one (1) meal a week consisting of locally grown food, we'd save 1.1 million barrels of oil -- a week. '


Marg said...

Debbie, if you could of only seen my first beginnings of a garden. Seeing that I worked full time for 10 years I did not have a life.
Now I decided to grow a garden. I hilled my potatoes tonight.
Asparagus? Ah!!! that takes time and patience as one tenaciously cares for each stalk.
While in Europe we ate asparagus every day. It's a favorite.

Green Bean said...

Beautiful review, Debra! I felt very much like you. I read AVM twice - the first time a skim that did not do it justice and the second time a journey to later be shared with my green book club.

I love that you wanted to order heirloom turkeys! and the you wondered what the rest of us, who can't move to fertile farmland, are to do. Wonderful thoughts on a wonderful book. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting review, and I am amazed at your last statement. We certainly need to become more aware, and even though we are moving in that direction, we have so very far to go.

I will do some research about this book. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

Willow said...

I'm back from England and catching up with everyone. I enjoyed your maintenance man story!

When I lived in the inner city in Los Angeles I didn't want to eat anything grown within 100 feet of my house (freeways and train tracks) but I had access to great farmers markets. I too wonder what people can do when there is no access to fertile land and they can't move. Now I have a small garden on my very small plot of land--two terraces at the back. The English have been very creative about using narrow back 'gardens' and organizing allotments (their word for community gardens). I'd not heard of AVM before. I should put it on my reading list!

Flower said...

I too have read Barbara's books...but not this one. I will check it out of the library and we can discuss it! I read the one about the cyotes and when I hear howling now, I have a different feeling of their importance in nature.
We are eating lettuce from our garden...with great expectations for eating huge mounds of corn on the cob and green beans!! We can save a few gallons of oil!!

Melissa said...

I'm so glad you liked it! I often find these days that I have to stop myself from ordering a swarm of bees to keep on the balcony and other such nonsense, so I am a bit scared to actually read this book - it might push me over the edge.

Melissa said...

by the way, did you take that photo? very artistic!

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