Not Oprah’s Book Club: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

This week’s book is not new exactly, but definitely relevant. It’s from 2007: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.

Transcript after the jump

Hi everybody. I’m Miriam and I’m doing this week’s edition of Not Oprah’s Book Club. I’m still stepping in for Courtney cause she’s on vacation, well actually she’s working on her new book in Italy.
I’m taking this opportunity to talk about another book I just read. It’s actually not new, it came out a few years ago but I wanted to talk about it anyway. The book is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. The subtitle is a year of food life.
I’ve been getting kind of into food politics lately, partially after watching the documentary Food Inc, which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago but I’ve also read the Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan which is another book about food politics and it’s something that I’ve been increasingly thinking more about. I think one of the things I like about the topic, and the reason I think it’s a feminist issue is that it’s at the crux of a lot of different issues we’re dealing with now, having to do with the environment, climate change, globalization, industrial food systems and how that affects the economy here and abroad, and also political things like poverty, health and immigration are all really brought together by this particular issue.
So this was a really interesting book to read because what Barbara and her family do is they spend a year eating almost entirely locally, foods grown in her community. Actually much of it is grown on her actual farm, they live on a number of acres and have a garden they eat from. They grow a bunch of things there, not for money, but to harvest. It has an orchard and also they start raising chickens and turkeys.
They spend a year eating locally. Barbara writes the narrative of the book and her husband writes more political sidebars. Their daughter who is about to go off to college writes little vignettes about her experience and also recipes.
The reason I liked the book is that it gives us some of the agricultural lessons we didn’t learn. If we had grown up 50 years ago, many more of us would have learned these lessons because many more of us would have grown up on or around a farm. Now most of us have very little knowledge of how vegetables are grown. One of things I really liked about this book was learning about what vegetables and fruits are seasonal. Growing up I had no idea if what I was eating was seasonal. One of the things Barbara points out in the book is that eating vegetables seasonally is a guarantee that you’re going to get the most nutrients from those fruits and vegetables. They’re going to be the freshest, they’re going to taste better because they’re not ripened in trucks or carted all the way across the world.
Not all of us can live on a farm, or spend the amount of time or energy that her family spends gardening and harvesting but a lot of us can shop at farmers markets, or buy things that are in season. Another thing she talks about is eating locally in the winter, things like preserving fruits and vegetables that are fresh in the summer by freezing, canning or making tomato sauce.
I really liked the book and I highly recommend it. For more information visit

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