Book A Day: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life is one of those books that really gets you thinking. Could I spend a year eating only locally grown food and growing my own food? I doubt it. But Kingsolver's book is inspiring, and I do think I can change some of my food-buying habits based on what she did and her advice.

I'm not doing it here, in the middle of Boston, but when I read about Kingsolver's baby turkeys, I really wanted to raise my own. She writes:

From time to time one of the babies would be overtaken by the urge for a power nap. Staggering like a drunk under the warm glow of a brooder lamp, it would shut its eyes and keel over, feet and tiny winglets sprawled out flat. More siblings keeled onto the pile, while others climbed over the fuzzy tumble in a frantic race to nowhere.

Descriptive passages like this run throughout the book and enable you to picture exactly what Kingsolver is doing and seeing. And among Kingsolver's story is practical and useful advice from husband Steven, another point of view from daughter Camille, and recipes -- wonderful recipes using fresh ingredients!

Chapter 9 - Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast is my favorite part of the book. Kingsolver brings up the effects women's rights had on the kitchen. This is really when prepackaged, prefab foods came into play. As I've said before, I obviously think women should have rights, but we did not compensate for this. We didn't put someone else in the kitchen to replace the wife or mother who had always been there. Who's cooking now? (Obviously, I'm really generalizing here... because plenty of people do still spend time in the kitchen, myself included.) You have to read the passage to really understand the issues here. I don't want to give too much away.

She also talks about lactose intolerance in this same chapter. Many people don't know that we really shouldn't be drinking milk as adults. Our digestive systems were never designed for that. Calves drink milk from their mothers. We should not. And I like that she points out that many people don't realize their lactose intolerance: "Physicians will tell you, the great majority of lactose-intolerant Americans don't even know it. They just keep drinking milk, and having stomachaches."

This book is filled with information about what we eat, where we get our food, and what we can do differently. The writing is informative but also descriptive, narrative, and fun. I call this a must-read for anyone interested in food.

If you have read this book, what did you think?

Remember, I'm away until March 20, so you won't get responses from me until then.