Friday, May 9, 2008

The Bookworm Challenge


I know I've been posting a lot about Crunchy's Eco-Throwdown Challenge and it looks to the outside world like I'm totally ignoring Green Bean's Bookworm Challenge, but I assure you I am not. I have been savoring my latest library find: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle for over a week now.


Barbara Kingsolver has written an engaging story about her family's relocation to a farm in Southwest Virginia where they take on the daunting challenge of eating locally for one year. Barbara's writing style is very informal and the book is full of dry humor, which I tend to like. The book itself is part autobiography / part textbook and wholly entertaining. The mental picture of a "Vegetannual" is something that will stick with me the rest of my life. Or at least until next week - I'm old, I have memory issues.

It's a great read for me right now, as I am trying to migrate our eating habits toward a more regional, seasonal diet. The thrill of sourcing out a new pasture-raising beef farm nearby or picking up my weekly CSA bounty is a new kind of excitement for me. I take great pleasure in seeking out local bakeries, cheese makers and flour mills. Sometimes I'm successful, other times I'm not. Occasionally, the find just falls in my lap by surprise. However it happens, though, it is always a welcome surprise to discover a hidden food source right in your own backyard.

Anyhow, back to the book. I'm a little more than halfway through, but I'm taking my time with reading, hoping to digest as much as possible before I have to return it from whence it came. I'm also taking from it some great ideas, websites and recipes that I'm planning on jotting down somewhere for future reference.

You may have noticed my posts so far this month have been a little shorter. They are lacking in their calculations and difficulty ratings. But this affords me lots of extra time to stick my nose in the book and be transported to Barbara's homestead, where she teaches me about, for lack of a better word, local foodology. A subject I'm beginning to think should be taught in every grade school, high school, home school and college throughout the US.

13 comments:

Heather said...

My favorite chapter is the one about turkey mating. You should be almost there. Get ready for a great laugh!

Wendy said...

I really loved that book, but I'm a big fan of Kingsolver's work anyway. Great read, and you'll really be inspired when you're finished. Be careful, though, you may be inspired to start your own garden ... or raise some heritage-breed turkeys ;).

Anonymous said...

I loved this book. In homage, I have replaced the flowers I usually plant in containers around our pool with herbs, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. So far they look beautiful......

Green Bean said...

Ahh, I never thought you were ignoring me! ;-) To the contrary. I felt guilty reading your plastic posts (where you are, I might add, kicking booty) because I signed up for the same pledge and have done little more so far that be more aware.

I'm glad that you are taking the time to savor AVM. I skimmed it the first time and then returned it to the library to avoid a fine (I've since become less concerned with the fines - sorry, those of you waiting for Simple Prosperity from my county's library system but I'll return it this weekend!). I was forced to re-read AVM when my green book club selected it for the month's read and boy am I glad that I did. It is such a beautifully written voyage that should be savored, reveled in and explored - just like a good local meal. Enjoy.

MamaBird said...

don't forget your gardening, that takes away from (cough) blogging too! ;) I love that book, i have to find it as I am about 1/2 way through it and 17 others. have you found local mills for flour anywhere near dc? i would love to know where!

Beany said...

O yes, the turkey chapter is hilarious! Its one of the best treehuggery books that not only makes an excellent case for eating locally, but also fun to read.

eco 'burban mom said...

I am reading the same book, for the same challenge! However, I started off the month reading voraciously, but have slowed down considerably. We had a warm weather spell for a couple of days and I couldn't resist the outdoors.

Now that mother's day is supposed to be in the 50s and rainy I hope to get some time to read! I particularly enjoy the daughter's take on the family meals, nutrition and menus. I like "hearing" a teenager's perspective. My kids aren't quite as adaptable as Miss Kingsolver, but she brings up some great points about how she feels about certain foods, menus and changes to her family routine!!

badhuman said...

I've read the book a couple times now and love it each time. We finally went online and ordered our own cheesemaking kit so we are going to try making our own mozzarella this week.

Woman with a Hatchet said...

I'm also reading AVM and loving it! I really want to make cheese now. And grow rhubarb.

Now to finish the book while the babies sleep! Yah!

CindyW said...

Good point about teaching at school. Yesterday, we were at WholeFoods, my daughter asked why we did not buy a watermelon. It seemed like a long story to explain to a 5 year old. But my husband tried - grown in Mexico, grown in California, oil consumption, future, knowing the farmers, etc., etc. I think she got about 20% of it. But that was 20% more than most 5 year olds. I do however feel guilty for not buying Mexican grown watermelons knowing how much the kids love them.

Mary Elizabeth said...

I didn't know about the challenge, but I've the same book out from the library and I'm really enjoying it! Reminds me a lot of my childhood.

Chile said...

Since I live in Tucson, I am, of course, a Barbara Kingsolver fan. I was thrilled when a friend gave me her ticket to see Barbara speak about the book (since I couldn't afford the $20 ticket.) I enjoyed reading the book...until I got to the chapter where she rails against veganism.

It is each person's choice how to eat. I don't have a problem with her choosing to abandon her previous vegan diet. I was, however, very disappointed with the lengths she went to attempting to discredit the value of a vegan diet. I'm not vegan for ethical reasons, so the turkey slaughter didn't disturb me that much. (Heck, read my eating pests post!) I think she could have left out the vegan-dissing and had a better book.

Rebecca said...

I loved this book! I seriously can not stop thinking about getting couple of chickens after reading this :-) In general, I thought it was very uplifting to know that local eating can be done without many sacrifices at all, although here in Las Vegas I think it would be considerably harder than where she lives.