Sunday, January 18, 2009

Animal Vegetable Miracle - read it!!!

In my first post I listed one of the books that inspired my move toward a better life: Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle

This book blew my mind. I have since lent it to a friend and plan to lend it out again when I get it back. Who would have thought a book about a family's attempts to grow their own food or source it locally would be so interesting? It's very well written, and easy to read. I really felt like I liked the author and her family by the end of the book. I certainly liked the sound of what they accomplished. If only I wasnt in an apartment with no backyard or balcony! I have put a big pot of roma tomatoes and basil, and little pots of cherry tomatoes and strawberries in part of the shared space (no complaints yet, hooray!), but I'd really love to grow more of my own food, and have room for things like a compost bin or a worm farm. Sigh.

Barbara Kingsolver doesn't just grow her own food - she harvests it, cooks it, preserves it, shares it with friends, teaches her children about it... and then has time to write a book about it! Talk about superwoman. After I finished reading the book I had a sudden urge to buy a big property in the middle of nowhere and become a dietarily self-sufficient locavore. I had to reconsider when I realised that:

a) I go nuts when I feel isolated from friends and family
b) I just know I would end up driving to the city a lot, therefore using lots of petrol
c) a small country town could be a problem for queers
d) a small country town could be a problem for the desired future CHILDREN of queers

So, I resolved to (probably) live in the 'burbs, but take whatever I could learn from Kingsolver's book and apply it to my urban context. I started to think about how you would go about using space creatively to fit as many vegetables as you could into the yard of a property closer to the city, being creative with the space you had. Other ideas started to creep in - adding skills like cheesemaking, breadmaking etc to my dietary self-sufficiency repertoire; retrofitting an existing house to be eco-friendly rather than building a new eco-friendly one from scratch further out from the city; getting involved in public transport activism and using public transport/carpooling/walking as much as possible to make the best of the convenient location we buy in... there were more ideas - some of them a bit wacky I'll admit - but I won't bore you. The point I'm making is that something in the book resonated with a part of me that I think I've suppressed over the years - the part that wants to live the way I believe it is right for me to live. That part of me went from a whisper to a loud scream after I finished reading. There aren't many books that I would call a Turning Point Book, but this is one of them.

Thanks Barbara!

Here is a story about this book from 'The Book Show" on the ABC - you might need to click 'show transcript'. If you can't be bothered reading the whole thing, here's a bit of an excerpt:

"Kingsolver's not the first person to write about the mess we've made of feeding ourselves. There are scores of books out at the moment about the business of eating. Some of them, like Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, are enlightening as well as grim. But some of them are tiresome, haranguing, even smug. Not this one. Kingsolver hits just the right tone, mixing worthy sentiment with humour, homespun wisdom, and unadorned fact. She has a great sense of pace, too, changing gear when your attention starts to drift, moving from gardening minutiae to an anecdote about Lily's chicken business (her youngest daughter is very entrepreneurial), then shifting back when levity gets too cute by reminding us of the import of the family's goal."

For another review of this book see Julie's post on Towards Sustainability.

1 comment:

  1. You would probably enjoy the worm farm. But it's not for squeamish house mates.


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