Vegetables Every Day

Vegetables Every Day
Carrot Tarator with Beets

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Its always dangerous to have really high expectations.  I ordered Barbara Kingsolver's (my favorite author),  new book about food (my favorite subject) Animal, Vegetable, Miracle just knowing that it was done.   What a disappointment.   The book is non-fiction, about the Kingsolver family pulling up roots in Tucson and moving to southern Appalachia (where they had been spending summers).  There goal is to live closer to the land, to grow their own food or procure it locally.  This is what sucks you in. But most of the book is a soap box, about evil oil companies, genetically modified food, poor city planning in Tucson, high fructose corn syrup and global warming.  And I agree that all of this is bad it didn't make for good reading. And some of it was a bit overboard,  the first 100 things I would do to stop global warming would not include not buying organic banana's from Ecuador.

The book is written by Barbara (the main narrative), her husband (educational side bars that look like something in a magazine or text book), and Camille, her daughter (delightful essays and recipes).  It's pretty chopped up - not a great story I was hoping for.

The miracle is that 4 related people (including 2 kids) were happy to do this together.  I get the point of eating seasonal food, meat that has been raised sustainably.  But the reality: this is a lot of work.  I sometimes think that I'm some kind of weirdo because I cook from scratch most of the food that we eat (and enjoy it).  But growing the food is real work, with bugs, dirt, rain, injuries, and sweat.  And no one seems to complain.  It may be non-fiction, but its not reality. 

One side of me thinks so what, you fed yourself for a year.  For centuries villages all over the world have figured out how to feed themselves without the benefit of good transportation, high fructose corn syrup, and Monsanto.  We have had good stories about these villages, like The Good Earth, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Cane River.  The other side thinks our modern society has this huge desire to be entertained: TV, movies, books, shows, sporting events, golf, video games, shopping; completely losing the satisfaction of productive chore. It's more popular to meditate than to pull weeds.  Most of us are pretty happy to have Mexican citizens pull our weeds and harvest our vegetables (no matter whether here or in Mexico). I do think many of the topics are really important. We must maintain the diversity of our food crops and not lose our heirloom varieties.  We need to eat better, cut the crap that big oil and McDonalds makes easy to eat.

I don't have the answers, and I wish this book could of at least had a story that really stuck.  How do we set higher expectations on the food that we eat?

Let me know if you want to borrow the book.  I think its good for your to read even though its not good reading.. and the recipes are good!

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