It is a rare occurrence when I find myself loathing a book with the very soul of my being, but Animal Vegetable Miracle accomplished just that. Mind you, I would have never suffered through such a horrible read if it were not for the fact that this was an assigned summer reading (by the way, it is summer BREAK, should we not have, you know, a break? Jeez school.)
In this book, Barbara Kingsolver and her family make the choice to learn how to farm and to consume only organic, local foods for an entire year. It is written from Kingsolver’s point of view, though there are intermittent passages written by her various family members (her daughter even includes recipe ideas). As well as describing this experience, Kingsolver discusses the way Americans eat today and what our food is really like, and why that contributed to her and her family’s decision to farm for a year. In a day when all of our foods contain mysterious chemicals, I thought this book would be an interesting way to learn about the modern food industry. It wasn’t.
Kingsolver’s passages about why exactly organic food is so much better than the foods in our grocery stores, and the ridiculous chemical experiments some producers use on the foods we eat, I found to be well written and very interesting. The problem was that she didn’t focus on those subjects, but rather, on their ‘adventures’ with farming. Instead of tackling the demoralization of the produce industry, Kingsolver went into intense detail on the most…interesting topics. These topics included the different species of tomato, zucchini’s growing seasons of the year, how to properly kill a chicken, and more. Shockingly, I did not find any of this interesting. Why in the world she thought going into great detail about turkey sex was more important than spending an extra chapter on the corruption within our produce system is beyond me (and yes, she did go on an on about turkey sex; and yes, it was very creepy since she wrote about it in such an enthusiastic way).
Having said my piece, I must concede that if you really would like to try and seriously farm in the future, you will get plenty of tips in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Or if you are just looking for some new, healthy recipes, it may be worth your while to flip through the book sometime and find the few dish ideas that are in there (though I wouldn’t buy the whole thing if that’s all you want).
However, I still hold true to my belief that Kingsolver focuses on all the most nit-picky ridiculous things while (annoyingly) not elaborating on the important, interesting facts. I wouldn’t suggest wasting your time, unless you are suffering from insomnia and are in a desperate need of sleep.
The RedEyed Reader