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

4.8 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (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 (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 75,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'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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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Hardcover
Written in her beautiful and often humorous style, Barbara and her equally eloquent daughter are able to inspire and touch us to live better. Supported by her husband's well-documented facts revealing the truth about the shocking history and current practices of American commercial farming. Barbara's ordinary American family were able to sacrifice and make changes in their lives which in turn improved their own lives and helped make the planet a better place. A model for any family, they are living testimonies that we can do it!
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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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Format: Paperback
There are many good things in this book, the author urging a more seasonal and local approach to food being the main theme. I can see how inspirational this book can be.

However the stumbling block for me was the superior approach the authors took to anyone who did not fit in with what they believed. For instance, the daughter wrote a piece about people who did not eat meat being unable to get proper and complete nutrients. This is nonsense, and what was written sounded like someone else speaking, some one else telling her that being an omnivore was the only right way. It felt almost religious in away - I am right and if you disagree you are wrong.

There were also instances in the book where the main author took snide little digs at anyone who was concerned with animal welfare, making quite clear her opinion that anyone who was thus concerned was over emotional and didn't "understand" the realities.

Ms Kingsolver's smug and superior attitude put me off a book that had been recommended to me by so many people and I was disappointed because I had a real desire to be inspired. A little respect on her part for those who choose a different way of reaching the same goal wouldn't have gone amiss.
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