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   BOOK REVIEW
  Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
 
A Year of Food Life
    by Barbara Kingsolver and Family

Book: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver.Barbara 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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