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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible celebration of local food
I already read this book and can't wait to buy my own copy and read it again. Barbara Kingsolver makes the topic of food riveting. Her family's journey to eat wholesome, local food is inspiring, informative and humorous. I laughed so hard reading about turkey sex. My friends and I talk about her book often and many of us are trying things that she wrote about; raising...
Published on April 3 2008 by M. Richoux

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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful Book on How to Eat Locally
This is a feature lengh non-fiction book that was a family collaboration of the Kingsolver-Hopp Family. Don’t expect plot, like Barbara Kingsolver’s fiction; instead expect well thought out and tried/tested information on how to eat as locally as possible. This is not preachy like some other books on this topic. This is an informative, fun and practical...
Published on May 25 2007 by Teddy


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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible celebration of local food, April 3 2008
By 
M. Richoux (British Columbia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Animal Vegetable Miracle (Paperback)
I already read this book and can't wait to buy my own copy and read it again. Barbara Kingsolver makes the topic of food riveting. Her family's journey to eat wholesome, local food is inspiring, informative and humorous. I laughed so hard reading about turkey sex. My friends and I talk about her book often and many of us are trying things that she wrote about; raising chickens, growing asparagus and more. The sections written by her husband and her daughter add greatly to the book. I especially appreciated her perspective on eating meat - I have struggled for years with wanting to be a vegetarian (which I was for 6 years) but not being able to feed my family well that way. With the Union for Concerned Scientists stating over and over that eating meat contributes to global warming, it was great to finally be able to distinguish for myself the difference between meat raised through large-scale agriculture vs. meat raised on small farms. It's a HUGE difference, one I wish the scientists would publicly acknowledge.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring read, May 31 2007
By 
C. Newton (Toronto, ON Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I was surprised to learn that Kingsolver's latest book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, was non-fiction, and was very interested to find out how her novelist skills would translate to the non-fiction genre. In a word? Brilliantly.

This latest book is timely, engaging and eye-opening. Although Kingsolver's story revolves around her own family and their move from their southwest home to Appalachia, the message of becoming socially conscious about ones food choices can be applied universally. Kingsolver makes the tough decision, not only to move her family to a completely new environment, but experiment with eating entirely locally for a year. They go about this by growing almost everything themselves as well as supporting their local farmers' market. It's not an easy experiment, and they all face their challenges. Kingsolver's husband, Steven, adds interesting facts about the state of the American food industry and their teenaged daughter Camille's contributions, which include delicious-sounding recipes, are fresh and engaging. What fans of Kingsolver will enjoy is her clever turn of phrase. She can make even produce and farming sound exciting, even whimsical.

A fantastic read and highly recommended. It made me think twice about mindlessly adding tropical fruit to my grocery cart and lead me to plant asparagus for the first time in my garden! It is my hope that readers will be encouraged, as I was, to support our local farmers by eating seasonally and reap both the environmental and health benefits of conscious eating & living.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Local is possible, June 25 2007
By 
Friederike Knabe "Books are funny little port... (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
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. There are produce to exchange or buy and there are experiences and lessons learned to be shared. The values of family togetherness and neighbourly community take center stage in the description of their experience. Without these ingredients, the experiment would probably not have succeeded.

While describing the ups and down of living through the year on their farm with wit and warmth, both Kingsolver and husband Hopp address some serious questions regarding the food we choose to eat. Issues range from protection local seeds and biodiversity to industrialization of our food system and the environment impacts that we are facing today and in the future. We also are encouraged to ask ourselves some fundamental questions about our own approach to food, where it comes from, how far it traveled to reach us, and how we make important economic and environmental as well as health choices every day. References to reading sources and useful organizations as well as a website with all the recipes and more complement the book. It should be widely read and enjoyed. [Friederike Knabe]
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Think globally, eat locally, May 16 2007
By 
Elvi Dalgaard "dalgaard" (Montreal, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Barbara Kingsolver's new book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: a Year of Food Life is enough to make me think seriously about starting a garden and a compost pile. But is it enough to make me actually do it?

The premise of the book is that for one year, Kingsolver's family pledged to eat only what it could procure from within an hour's drive from their home, with a few exceptions for things like flour and coffee. Although the book is certainly more preachy than Kingsolver's early novels, the tone reminds me a lot of "Prodigal Summer". It doesn't cross the line into straight evangelism, always retaining the ability to entertain as well as inform. Even the message is not a monolithic one, being composed of forays into other philosophies as well as the main "eat local" one.

In one section, there's even what seems to be a tribute to an early advocate of the (mostly reviled) corporate attitude: Sanford Webb, the first owner of the Hoppsolver (conflation of Kingsolver's surname and that of her husband, Steven Hopp) homestead. This turn-of-the-century entrepreneur brought in refrigeration (now the tool of the long-distance transporters of produce), and bought trees rather than getting them from his neighbours like everyone else. Not only that, but these were grafted trees that wouldn't breed true If planted again from seed - and he got the whole neighbourhood doing it. I'm not sure whether Webb is absolved of being anti-local-food because of the period he lived in, or whether he's just there as a picturesque portrait, and not meant to be representative of anything modern.

In each chapter, the variety of voices kept me interested. There's Camille, with recipes and snippets from the new generation's perspective; Steven, with informational sidebars and references to look up for still more information; and Kingsolver's own several voices, lecturing us in some parts but always rewarding us with anecdotes from her year of local food.

Camille's voice is refreshing and authentic; clearly she is one of those young people it is a surprise and a delight to meet, who have opinions and beliefs unexpected in such youth, and admirable in anyone. Many of her recipes are now on my list of things to try - much like the recipes in Jeanne Ray's "Eat Cake", they sound almost too good to be true when described in such lovely prose earlier in the chapter.

When the turkeys and their reproductive challenges entered the story, it was clear that they were going to become symbolic somehow of the outcome of the project as a whole; would they succeed? would they only come close? would they fail outright? This suspense story, while it seemed a little bit tacked on at the end, kept me reading avidly right to the end. And Kingsolver certainly doesn't condescend to her audience, but points out the symbolism and allegory herself, not pretending it's an accident. Though she follows up with one of my favourite lines in the book: "Maybe the zucchini are just zucchini."

Finally, the book succeeds by adopting a tone that is wry, not sanctimonious, friendly rather than angry, and by invisibly winning us over with Kingsolver's beautiful, flawless writing. I may not plant a quarter-acre of garden and can enough to last me through the winter, but I'll certainly think harder about where my food comes from, and what I can do to shorten that distance.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Read, June 10 2013
By 
A. Payne (Lindsay, Ontario CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Animal Vegetable Miracle (Paperback)
Barbara Kingsolver is one of the most engaging writers I have read. She can even turn a non-fiction story into a page-turner.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful story of food, farming, and family., Jan. 3 2013
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I absolutely loved this book; it was very inspiring. It is a story detailing the day-to-day lives of the Kingsolver family, but also featured recipes and scientific pieces. The book is written by three members of the family, though I preferred chapters written by Barbara the most. The book paints a beautiful picture of the farming and do-it-yourself food-preparation lifestyle. It made me yearn for a garden and to own some chickens myself!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not preachy, just good food!, April 18 2012
This review is from: Animal Vegetable Miracle (Paperback)
Great book! I'm generally a fiction reader with a short attention span for non-fiction, but this book was a page turner for me! I read it a couple of years ago and have since been motivated to start my own home garden. I've recommended it to others who all have raved about it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Miricle? We will see...., March 3 2012
This review is from: Animal Vegetable Miracle (Paperback)
This is a very Informative book. Love the recipes at the end of each chapter. It really makes me want to get in the garden and grow. I do not have a lot of space and our growing season is not as long, but I plan on growing what I can for the summer season. I hope to can and freeze a portion of my produce. We will see what happens!
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful Book on How to Eat Locally, May 25 2007
By 
Teddy (Richmond, BC) - See all my reviews
This is a feature lengh non-fiction book that was a family collaboration of the Kingsolver-Hopp Family. Don’t expect plot, like Barbara Kingsolver’s fiction; instead expect well thought out and tried/tested information on how to eat as locally as possible. This is not preachy like some other books on this topic. This is an informative, fun and practical book. Even those of us whom don’t have a farm can do many things to eat more locally and help save the environment. It’s not all or nothing. Everything you do to help the environment is a plus. It could be something as simple as not buying strawberries in January. Note to vegetarians such as myself, Kingsolver is not a vegetarian and there were animals harmed in the writing of this book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Choose Food to Enhance Life, Jan. 3 2008
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(#1 HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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.

My own consciousness about food was raised when I realized that I've been ignoring many wonderful local food choices to supplement my tiny garden. Next spring, I plan to do things much differently.

More significantly, this book makes the challenges of the small organic farmer clearer to me. I see that I need to buy more local organic food to help make this offering available and to help those who want to do that kind of work.

For those who are concerned about food quality and environmental sustainability, this book contains much valuable information and advice.

The book's style is very accessible. There are sidebars written by Professor Hopp and Ms. Camille Kingsolver that give the book a nice change of pace. There are also lots of interesting recipes. Ms. Barbara Kingsolver also uses a narrative style that allows for lots of anecdotes and extended stories. Her pleasant novelist's touch gives the book a warmth and glow that you don't find in many books about food.

I was very sorry when the book ended. I could have kept on reading for another five years. Perhaps they will write an update at some point. I hope so!
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Animal Vegetable Miracle
Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (Paperback - April 29 2008)
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