A Bluedot Favorite Read: ‘Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life’



In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a compelling memoir by Barbara Kingsolver and her husband and two children, the family tells us the story of a full year they spent eating locally, says Laura Roosevelt, a freelance journalist and BlueDot’s copy editor.

“They explain the many environmental reasons why eating locally is good for the planet — how, for example, eating locally reduces the amount of fuel (and fuel emissions) involved in transporting food from far away.

“What they didn’t grow on their own Appalachian farm, the family purchased from other farmers and small producers within a 100-mile radius. Each family member was allowed to choose one “cheat” that the whole family could share in; Kingsolver chose spices she couldn’t grow herself, for example, and her husband selected coffee. But otherwise, the family were locavores for a full year, which meant using local honey as their sole sweetener, making their own mozzarella cheese, and refraining from naming animals who would eventually wind up on their table. It also meant preserving food for the winter in a variety of ways including pickling, canning, freezing, and drying.

“The book inspired me to rethink my own vegetable gardening. I now plan my garden with a view to growing things that I can continue to eat throughout the winter and into the spring. Garlic and winter squashes, for example, will keep for months in my cool basement. Sugar snap peas and string beans can be parboiled and frozen. Tomatoes, cucumbers, and many other vegetables can be pickled or canned for use throughout the year. I’m not a purist; I still occasionally buy raspberries in February, or asparagus in December, but a big portion of the vegetable matter my husband and I consume in the off-season now comes from our own garden. In addition to feeling good about reducing our environmental footprint, we enjoy delicious food that we know is fully organic.”

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Laura D. Roosevelt
Laura D. Roosevelt
Laura D. Roosevelt is a journalist and poet who lives in West Tisbury, and is currently at work on a memoir. “When it comes to kindling, my current favorite fire starter is the dried stalks from last year’s garlic harvest.”
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