Saturday, June 7, 2008

Locavore Whore

It took me a month to get through Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life.
Which means I didn't devour it.

Which must mean I savored it.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book with its thoughtful personal essays, well-researched history of food passages, and the fabulous recipes.

Honestly, this book does live up to the hype. I learned a lot about American food culture, how I can be a smarter consumer, and that I'm destined to be become a local foodie (aka locavore). Some of the best parts of the book for me were learning about Slow Food International's Thanksgiving turkey project and Cheesemaking homemade-style, testing the delectable recipes within the book, and reading Chapter 14 about harvesting animals (Yummo!).

With that said sometimes I wanted more from this book. What? I'm not sure. But something I can't quite put my finger on. In the last few chapters, Kingsolver mentions a few items their family still bought at the grocery store, which reassured me that I could trust her as a non-fiction writer. Of course, I trusted her all along, but something about the book seemed off. I told a friend on the phone last night that sometimes I felt like the book was "on par with those new-moms who tell the very-edited birthing story that neglects all the pain, suffering, and grossness." Of course, Kingsolver does fill us in some of the deets regarding animal harvesting, animal cruelty on factory farms, and turkey mating, but sometimes I felt like the book made it sound really easy to be a farmer. What about the crops that didn't go? Or what about getting through the craving of oranges and citrus? I guess I just wanted to see some failure or some loss of hope. The skeptic in me questioned Kingsolver's undying optimism. If she really is that optimistic, then rad; I'd love to meet her and have her rub off on me.

Apart from my skepticism, so much can be gained from this book. It's motivated me to buy local even more than I already was and to rethink the produce or goods I must buy at the store (i.e. flour and sugar) as well as the wanted items I need to learn to not buy (i.e. Reese's cups). I mean just look at this all local food asparagus and feta cheese frittata FD and I made for lunch the other day; it was gorgeous, tasty, and filled me with pride that I knew where our food came from and love for our Ohio farmers and animal harvesters! I honestly could taste the difference in quality, even in the eggs. I'm committed to continue buying from our local farmers markets in BG, Perrysburg, Findlay, Toledo, and other Ohio farms all summer and fall as well as hopefully from certain farms throughout the winter. Also, my new goals are to buy veggies only that are season and not ones shipped from FL or CA that are out of season locally AND to find and buy grass-fed animals.

I think what the book failed to focus on (though, it was mentioned a few times in Hopps contributions) that created a little crook of void for me was do what you can where you are. I'd love to start a veggie patch and garden more, but right now it's not realistically possible. However, there's always community gardens to look into as a start. While one day I know I will garden, today I know for sure I can support local farms, buy canned good from Toledo canneries, and reassess what I buy at the grocery or even rethink which grocery store I choose to buy from. Little steps are sometimes just as important as an all out huge commitment. I'm pretty good with my food practices: we haven't eaten fast food (besides Qdoba, which I can't give up) for almost one year; we've been buying organic for several years; we're thoughtful about how each food comes to our table. We're starting and we're trying. I just feel like it would be too extreme & set us up for failure to swear off all "corporate food" or restaurants that don't serve local ingredients. However, we will start requesting local ingredients on comment cards and supporting more local restaurants that use local ingredients such as Revolver Restaurant.

One day I know we'll really be off and running, and by that I mean I hope (fingers crossed) our green thumbs work and our turkeys hatch babies.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle earns five farm-conscious Hello Kittys. Just be prepared to become obsessed with food and the rethinking of food while reading this book.

6 comments:

LemonCadet said...

1. It's always been my motto to do what you can and don't feel guilty for what you can't. It's either that or go live in a shack in the woods and "live off the fat of the land." I once told this to a friend of mine and she said, "Yeah, and then you'd feel guilty for cutting down the trees to make the shack." It's really very nearly impossible to be perfect.

2a. If women told their true birth stories with all the blood and gore, the human race would die out as everyone would be on birth control.

2b. You kinda forget the true birth story too. There's some sort of hormone action that puts you in that zone and allows you to forget almost everything that happened there.

3. Have you read Pollan's _Botany of Desire_? Quite good.

AMR said...

See, Lemon, I admire your honesty! That's why your birth story rocked. And I think you're right about the gore; when I think of it, I keep my legs closed for quite some time. LOL! JK!

I have not read _Botany of Desire_. I'll add it to my to-read list. Are you on GoodReads?

I like #1 a lot too. Very true. I assume it's Catholic guilt I'm working with...

Amanda said...

I really love your support for local farmers and local restaurants. i really admire and am inspired to try organic and try and find a local farmers market to buy produce at. keep up the good work and don't worry no one is perfect! i totally love your blog and your honesty about life. =)

Katherine said...

I've had this review flagged on bloglines ever since you posted it. I loved A,V,M too, and consider it one of a very few genuinely life-changing books. Not that I've gone whole-locally-harvested-hog (we still have bananas on our counter), but I AM making small changes.

I loved your review!

jtspears said...

Just stumbled on your blog. I'm actually halfway thru Kingsolver's book. Born and raised similar to Kingsolver's kids, my 4 years at UT killed what my parents had instilled in me. I became addicted to all the processed junk we never had as kids. At 42, I'm now trying to get back to my roots, so to speak, without planting a 3-acre garden like my parents did. I jumped online to find some other options for local foods besides the downtown Toledo farmer's market, where I run to as often as I can. If you have any suggestions, I would greatly appreciate it. ~Tamie

Tara Low said...

Agreed fully on Kingsolver's optimism... every time I read this I fall into the fantasy of moving to VT or NH and farming, raising chickens, etc. I'm sure it's not that easy!! Going to start this summer with our landscaping... Real Simple did an article awhile back about growing a potted vegetable/herb garden. I think I'll start there until we get east:)