Food and books are two of my pet subjects. Deborah just reminded me about one of my favorite books about food (by the way, you might want to click her link and check out the blog entry that she has on David's Duck Fat Fried Mac & Cheese - it has to be seen to be believed). Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver is one of those books that makes you want to change your life or, at the very least, the way you eat. If you're familiar with Kingsolver's novels (like the wonderful Poisonwood Bible), you'll find this nonfiction work an interesting change of pace for her.
First of all it's a collaboration with her husband and their 19-year-old daughter. The book chronicles their move to rural Virginia and their determination to eat locally for a year:
“This is the story of a year in which we made every attempt to feed ourselves animals and vegetables whose provenance we really knew... and of how our family was changed by our first year of deliberately eating food produced from the same place where we worked, went to school, loved our neighbors, drank the water, and breathed the air.”
The book is an interesting mix of narrative mixed with factual sidebars and personal essays. The fact that it even has recipes means that I'm keeping it on my cookbook shelf. You may find that you already know much of the information presented in it about the food industry (especially if you've read Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma). But what's interesting about Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is the way the information is woven into their year long story.
I actually started reading the book last year shortly after joining the Fairview Gardens CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Reading the book was a wonderful way for me to really embrace the idea of eating locally. I can't quite see myself committing to a whole year of eating nothing but local food, but I do find myself looking for more and more ways to move my diet in that direction. Now, if I could just find a source for local ducks, I could try that Mac & Cheese recipe...