Home Health and Nutrition Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
Read in 18 min.
Listen in 22 min.
Learn the key ideas of the book by Barbara Kingsolver

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Eating locally grown food is good for us, and the planet

It is commonly believed that The United States does not have a particularly deeply rooted food culture, if we don’t count fizzy drinks and hamburgers made from intensively farmed meat. So, is it possible to live in America without relying on the food industry? This is what the Kingsolver family, made up of Barbara, Steven, and their two daughters, teenager Camille and little Lily, attempt to find out. They conduct an experiment, and for one year, try to eat only locally grown, seasonal food. Most of their meat and vegetables are grown or raised on their farm in the Appalachians, or come from nearby farms. Will the family be able to complete the experiment, and maybe even turn it into a lifestyle? Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a lively account of the family’s experience, and as well as providing interesting insights into the food industry and some tasty seasonal recipes.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
Read in 18 min.
Listen in 22 min.

The Kingsolver family is committed to eating locally grown food

The Kingsolver family is made up of Barbara, Steven, and their two daughters: teenager Camille and baby Lily. The book begins when the family decides to leave Tucson, Arizona, and move to the family farm in the Appalachian region of Virginia.

One of the reasons for the move is that on the family farm, they will be able to eat food that does not come from many miles away, but from an area where food grows readily and where the soil is watered with real rain. Tucson is a beautiful city that offers the best community you could wish for, but which is sorely lacking in nature, as it is located in a very arid area, and so relies on food and water supplies from elsewhere.

It may seem like a superficial reason to move, but the family believe that eating the food grown on the very land on which they live is reason enough. In the United States, this is no small feat: the food found on American supermarket shelves has travelled an average of 1,500 miles, which is far further than the average American family travels for their annual holiday.

Processing, packaging, storing, refrigerating, and transporting these foods requires enormous amounts of fossil fuels, which has obvious consequences on the environment: about 400 gallons of oil, or 17% of the country’s energy consumption, are used each year in the agricultural industry. It is estimated that if every American citizen consumed just one meal per day of organically grown or raised produce, the country’s energy consumption would be reduced by 1.1 million barrels per week. This data shows how small changes in our eating habits can make a big difference.

So, the family decides to conduct an experiment: they take a ‘sabbatical year’, in which they remove all - or almost all - industrial food products from their regular diet. For one year, the Kingsolver family will only eat products that are organic, seasonal, and grown locally. In many cases, this food will be grown either on their own farm or on those of their neighbours. The objective is to prove, especially to themselves, that even in the United States, it is possible to live without being dependent on the food industry.


The key ideas of "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle"

The Kingsolver family is committed to eating locally grown food
Getting back to the land, in order to build a healthy food culture
We choose to eat whatever we want at the expense of taste and nutrition
Following the plant cycle helps develop seasonality
We can all do our part to rediscover the importance of the earth
Cooking is sharing, awareness, knowledge, and an act of love
It is not about refraining from killing, but about making conscious choices
Planning allows us to choose what to eat
Take-home message
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