Saturday, February 11, 2017

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food LifeAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A re-read for me that's relevant as ever, and also Chicago's One Book, One Chicago read for 2016 - 2017. Kingsolver recruits her family to eat as locally as they can (ideally from their own farm/garden) for a year, and uses this experience to create an expanded journal/guide for how to eat intentionally.

First thoughts: After remembering that I read this in 2011, I was excited to see how my feelings to local food had developed in the past 5 years. Most of what Kingsolver writes came back to me (see my original thoughts here), but I enjoyed reading it through a new lens of living in a post-truth America (and not as a nanny).

Farm thoughts: No, I didn't grow up on a farm, but I come from farmers. I grew up with farm kids. Seeing farm animals, acres of corn/soybeans, and real food isn't foreign to me. And yet, in my city life, I can see how easy it would be to forget all of that and only recognize food as what I see in my grocery store or at restaurants.

Favorite quotes (there a lot):

"...the children of farmers are likely to know where food comes from, and...the rest of us might do well to pay attention." -p8 (I'd add to that the children who grow up in farming communities!)

"We'd surely do better, if only we knew any better." -p8

"Knowing how foods grow is to know how and when to look for them; such expertise is useful for certain kinds of people, namely, the ones who eat, no matter where they live or grocery shop." -p10

"At its heart, a genuine food culture is an affinity between people and the land that feeds them." -p20

"Most of us are creatures so comforted by habit, it can take something on the order of religion to invoke new, more conscious behaviors..." -p38

"Concentrating on local foods means thinking of fruit invariably as the product of an orchard, and a winter squash as the fruit of an early-winter farm. It's a strategy that will keep grocery money in the neighborhood, where it gets recycled into your own school system and local businesses." -p69

Re-read thoughts: As always, this book makes me want to be better about local foods/farmers markets - baby steps. I'd say I'm pretty good at looking for local produce in the grocery store and I almost always eat in season produce over fruits/vegetables trucked across the country.

Teacher thoughts: I love the curriculum tie-in (something I wouldn't have thought about during my first read). If only gardening was tied to state standards everywhere! Almost all the students I know would love it, and they are the ones who need it the most. CPS has gotten better (even in the past two years) at seeking out local food sources, serving a variety of in season produce, and teaching students about where their food comes from, but that's not quite the same as learning from the source.

Recommended for: anyone who eats.

Final thoughts: This re-read reminded me of values I hold and allowed me to see food culture from the perspective of someone working in public schools vs as a "housewife"/nanny.

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