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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: Our Year of Seasonal Eating Paperback – 3 Apr 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (3 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571233570
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571233571
  • Product Dimensions: 32.3 x 32.3 x 50.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 224,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Barbara Kingsolver was born in 1955 and grew up in eastern Kentucky. Her books include poetry, non-fiction and award-winning fiction, and in 1999 she was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for The Poisonwood Bible (recently voted Britain's favourite reading group book). She lives with her husband and daughter in southern Arizona and in the mountains of southern Appalachia.

Product Description


'A beautifully written plea for a return to authenticity in eating and food production.' -- Irish Times

'Kingsolver returns again and again to subjects such as food miles and the use of pesticides, and on these occasions her folksy humour turns into something much more polemical.' -- Sunday Times

'This is a rich, rewarding book.' -- The Times

Book Description

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle follows a year in the life of Pulitzer Prize-nominated author of The Poisonwood Bible and The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver, as she and her family try to eat local food, grow their own vegetables, and reduce their eco footprint.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 3 Sept. 2007
Format: Hardcover
I've never felt moved enough to review a book before but this one is outstanding. It's such a wonderful mix of fact, story-telling and delicious recipes that you can't fail to find something to interest you. The story had me gripped all the way, and I'll never look at a turkey quite the same way again! I'll be making a far greater effort to shop locally from now on. I'm already finding myself rather overwhelmed and slightly horrified by a trip to Tesco. Be warned, once you start on this your life is going to change :-)
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Friederike Knabe on 4 July 2007
Format: Hardcover
What a delightful book this is! It is about food, of course, but also about much more. Kingsolver very skilfully combines an entertaining memoir of her family's year of living on local provisions, mostly home grown on their farm in southern Appalachia, with humorous and serious reflections on rural life, the food industry, the environment, health and local farmers' economics. Given her science background and success as a fiction writer, she is best placed to captivate her audiences.

Roughly following a monthly rhythm, we learn what crops to plant and when, how to mix and match what grows best together in the fields and how to deal with the vegetable abundance at one time or another. She shares the ups and downs of yearlong fieldwork in a personal and charming way that even non-gardeners will enjoy the walk. There are birds to observe, chickens to raise and Bourbon Red heritage turkeys to nurture without being adopted as the mother hen. Kingsolver and her family literally dig in to realize the growing plans they had made to ensure feeding themselves throughout the year. The periods of abundance when canning and drying and other methods of preservation become essential, are followed by less rich harvest when they have to rely on the pantry and eat what they have saved. For one month the kitchen may be covered in red: it's tomato season, another one in green when the surplus of zucchini results in experimenting with daily new recipes. Daughter Camille brings to book and the table a delightful range of easy to follow recipes that celebrate the fresh produce from their garden and fields. She also adds her own personal touch with reflections of a young person experience on family life on a farm. Friends, neighbours and the local farmers' market play an important role in any hobby farmer's life.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By emma who reads a lot TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 Sept. 2008
Format: Paperback
A few other reviews have drawn attention to Barbara Kingsolver's "smugness", including one person who liked the book but doesn't want her round for dinner.

I'm usually really sensitive to people being a bit too pleased with themselves, but I didn't think this book was like that at all. I thought it was touchingly hilarious about the weeks that they ended up just bottling tomatoes for days on end. And I loved all the information about intensive farming, agribusiness seed companies, and terminator genes - like a good article in the Sunday paper.

Most of all I found the book really inspiring. It made me pay attention to where my food came from, much more than I already did. I have always tried to eat seasonally and avoided food imports, but I found myself really being intrigued by her model, where you stuff your face with a couple of foodstuffs until you are heartily sick of them, by which time something else is coming into season. It's just such a different way of doing things. I don't know if it'll ever totally catch (back?) on, but my god, she makes a persuasive case.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 3 Jan. 2008
Format: Paperback
If you read only one book about food in 2008, I suggest you make it this one.

Barbara Kingsolver, her husband, Steven Hopp, and her daughter, Camille, present selecting, growing, producing, harvesting, storing, preparing, sharing, and eating food as a way to enhance their own lives and those of others. It's a life-affirming approach that I found quite intriguing.

Let me give you a few examples. Ms. Kingsolver decided it would be interesting to breed turkeys as well as raise them. Now, this isn't done very often. Turkeys don't have the necessary equipment and habits to be very good at mating and raising their young so most growers use artificial insemination and incubators. The result is a fascinating story of discovery about turkeys and herself.

Her family also decided to almost totally limit themselves to the food they could produce or purchase as locally grown (within about 250 miles) for a year. So you don't eat strawberries in January with that approach unless you freeze some from the summer, have a greenhouse, or live in southern California. This family lives in Virginia so the options are heavily constricted by the limited growing season. As a result, you'll find lots of recipes in the book to use the seasonal bounties of foods that are easy to grow in quantity like zucchini and tomatoes.

The book is also informative about food and how it is produced. I realized that I knew many of these things because my dad grew up on a farm and my mom on a ranch. They also grew a lot of our food when we were growing up. But I'm sure my children have no idea about these things. Ms. Kingsolver does a great service by transmitting this increasingly scarce and important information to another generation.
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