Kingsolver and her family discover a way to eat healthy while sharing in
the work to grow their own vegetables, raise their own poultry, and
after harvesting, preserve much of what they grew for the long cold
winter. Originally living in Tucson, Arizona, they moved to southern
Appalachia where they planted a large garden. Kingsolver’s nine-year-old
daughter, Lily, operates a heritage poultry business, selling her eggs
and meat. Her family buys what they don't raise—apples, beef, and
lamb—from local farms. The family had become vegetarian, but decides to
eat a diet of carefully chosen, home-grown meats, instead. This book
chronicles the year that Barbara Kingsolver, along with her husband and
two daughters, made a commitment to become locavores—those who eat only
locally grown foods.
There has been a lot of preaching done about sustainable farming and
cooking. It’s the latest trend on many of the cooking shows on T.V.
Kingsolver, known for her literary style, takes this subject to a whole
new level. She explains complex topics, such as why certain things about
a vegetarian diet can be risky, in simple terms.
Her husband, Steven Hopp, a biologist, contributed useful sidebars on
industrial agriculture and ecology while her daughter Camille, a college
student studying biology, offers short essays for each month and
easy-to-make recipes. Those looking for healthful alternatives to
processed foods will find inspiration to seek out farmers' markets and
to learn to cook and enjoy seasonal foods.
Their remarkable year begins in April, when the first asparagus spears
poke up from the ground. Sowing, weeding, watering, picking, canning,
preserving and eating follow the calendar, with an overabundance of
zucchini in the summer, and the food the family has dried, frozen and
canned seeing them through the cold months of winter.
Unfortunately, most readers can’t do this. Even if they buy produce in
season, what’s the alternative during the winter. Should they not eat
salads? Kicking the supermarket habit sounds great on paper, and a bit
romantic as Kingsolver and family tell it, but it can be a real struggle
for those who don’t have the means or the lifestyle to grow their own
gardens. And after growing their own vegetables, would these same
readers want to spend countless hours preserving them.
This is a well-written book, but Kingsolver, like so many other authors
on the subject of seasonal cooking, forget to offer alternatives for
those who might not be able to follow their example.
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