Whilst Essaying: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

My parents ate organic before it was cool.  Perhaps not full-blown locavores, but they have always praised seasonality, whole foods, lean proteins and a bounty of leafy greens.  Those things that seem to be increasingly trendy now.  Though I can’t claim I’ve always been fond of these ideas—what kid wouldn’t kill for some chocolate cereal—they are beginning to interest me more and more.

Perhaps there is a correllation between the locavore movement and this psychotic weather we have been having recently?  I’d venture to say yes.  But my insecurities about the plant are the subject of a different, sadder, post.

Today, I want to talk to you about Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle in which she recounts her tales attempting to eat as locally and sustainably as possible for a whole year.  To do so, she grows most of her own fruit, vegetables and even, gulp, raises her own meat.

Though there were moments of this book that made me hug my kindle, there were also scenes that tempted me to throw my housemates’ dirty dishes against the wall in frustration.  The moments that seemed a touch too pretentious or anything having to do with Italy.  I study Italian, it’s a touchy subject.

bene is an adverb people!!!!!!!

But, I digress.  The memoir carefully treaded the ine between being a delightful romp that encouraged the reader to experience living as a locavore along with Kingsolver and being a bit preachy.  These moments weren’t overt.  Indeed, many of the points when Kingsolver urges the reader to consider the demerits of eating a super-market centric diet were the bearable bits.  The cringey parts come from her descriptions which can be so florid they hurt.

Now, I am sure many people are a fan of this style; however, I have never enjoyed that manner of writing.  I probably never will.  Let’s get to the point please.

I feel it is wise to address what several amazon reviews have cited as her preachy tone.  Yes, there are moments when her language takes a turn to promotion.  I type here as a vegetarian who did not feel at all marginalized by her opinions on meat.  Though, oh how I cringed during the turkey slaughtering tales!

Tha’s how I felt about the memoir.  I didn’t always agree with Kingsolver’s point of view, but she expreses herself so beautifully that I felt okay with it.  Ultimately, this is a book for anyone who likes real food and cares about how it’s made.

And, I should probably add that I wrote this review on a plane; my carbon footprint probably wears a men’s size 13.

Are you interested in eating a locavore diet?  Do you think about the ethics behind your food choices?


2 thoughts on “Whilst Essaying: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

  1. casacaudill

    Visiting from A Brooklyn Limestone and was happy to see – finally – someone else that didn’t love this book. My mother in law raved about it. My friends on Goodreads have all given it four and five stars. Even my husband liked it! So imagine my surprise when I couldn’t get past the author’s condescension and preaching. I found her – and her family – not at all likeable or sympathetic. I didn’t care about their experiences because she couldn’t make me care. Going into this book I wanted nothing more than to cheer them on and instead I found myself feeling put out for having read her adventures. I finally understood why so many people find “foodies” pretentious a-holes. Ever since reading this book I’ve been very careful about how I talk about food when I’m around people that might not come from the same background or have the same experiences as me lest I come off sounding like the author and turn someone off to the very good qualities of eating this way that are lost in the narrative.

    1. Emilia Post author

      I think you really hit the nail on the head about not finding her likeable sympathetic. Perhaps people love it so much because they have previous experience reading her novels? I definitely had a difficult time empathizing with her story as well. Now that I really think about it, that was probably my biggest difficulty with the book.

      Discussing food with people is definitely a big issue the book raises, too. I haven’t thought about it that much, but I must take care about how I talk about food with people who have a different background from me. What a great point to reflect on!


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