Thursday, October 1, 2009

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food LifeImage via Wikipedia

I grabbed this book at the last minute because I noticed it was our book club selection. Up until now we had only read fiction. There was a request for some nonfiction - and, boy, am I glad there was!

This book is based around a family who lives off of local foods for an entire year. They have a small farm and are surrounded by farming neighbors. This book is really about making informed food choices and realizing the effects of those choices.

I found this book incredibly inspiring. As I have mentioned before, I have been very interested in conscientious consumerism. This very much includes buying local. This book is full of facts that amazed me, such as the U.S. loses 300 farms per week and each food item travels an average of 1500 miles.

Now, obviously, this book is slanted (aren't they all?) The one fact that annoyed me was: "Family farms sold $236,000 worth of organic produce to regional retailers and supermarkets which those markets, in turn, sold to consumers for nearly $0.3 million." Now, really, that is only a difference of $64,000. I realize that when making a point you have to carefully construct your words, but this felt like a jab at my intelligence.

I think this book is a healthy balance between preaching and informing (like me?) Ideally, yes, it would be best if we could all only buy locally but that is impossible, even for this family; they still bought coffee. They did buy fair trade coffee. I think the take-home message is to do what you can, try to buy foods only when they are in season, eat at home more, go visit farmer's markets, and maybe plant some tomatoes of your own.

One thing that really struck me was that these people did not miss the food that was out of season because they were fully enjoying the ones that were. Everyone kinda does that already. We do not miss watermelon at Thanksgiving because we are enjoying cranberries. We eat strawberries in the spring and apples in the fall. Thee apples that you find in April just don't taste as good. If you are in Boston, like me, and it is February and there are oranges at the market, you have to wonder where they are from and how much oil it took to get them there.
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  1. GAH! I totally agree. I try to buy Organic but it is so darn expensive that I only purchase what we eat the most of (milk, eggs). I like to shop at my farmers market. I need to figure out how to stretch the goodies when they close up shop, Oct-May.

  2. Truly loved this book - I've always tried (key word) to be thoughtful in what I buy but sometimes its just not practical. I've been buying plenty at farmer's markets and canning for use later in the winter...but that's if I'm super motivated and blessed with a ton of time on my hands, which as a single mom, is a luxury I don't have.

  3. While I really enjoyed how this book got me to buy more locally produced and in season foods, I also appreciated that even the family here got some things like coffee outside of the 100-mile diet. What really resonated with me was the knowledge of WHERE our food comes from, so that we can make the decision to buy something local, or to buy it knowing that it was produced somewhere else.

    Really enjoyed the book! It has completely changed my eating habits.


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