Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal Vegetable Miracle is about a family’s year-long experiment to produce all their own food or buy whatever they couldn’t produce from local sources. Usually small farms like their own and farmers markets. Sometimes their definition of local had to be expanded to include their whole state or another country for food like coffee and tea produced under a Fair Trade agreement.
I enjoyed this book. It inspired me to want to really take up vegetable gardening in a big way, try and plant as much food as possible so as to avoid buying out of season produce at the supermarket. Because if you are eating right you will not be eating tomatoes from Mexico in February. With a freezer, you would have been able to freeze your tomatoes in August, when they were ripe, for use in stews and soups all year long.
For a while, I was almost convinced to buy some laying hens and a couple of roosters. Robert soon set me straight by pointing out how much of a hassle it would be finding someone to look after them when we wanted to go away.
Back when I was a sheep farmer I had no trouble recruiting farming kids from the neighborhood to water my sheep when we went on our annual summer holiday. Prince George is not as bucolic.
I was also inspired to make my own cheese. Apparently, all I need is milk and bacteria. Each cheese has its own distinct bacteria. An amazing diversity of bacteria and recipes for cheese can be bought online. The Kingsolver family made mozzarella for their weekly Friday night pizza’s. I don’t know if I will try this.
Camilla, one of her daughters, had little sections at various points in the book describing her own experiences with her family’s eating experiment and she included some of her own yummy sounding recipes, the one for mozzarella cheese is included, all of which I enjoyed reading.
Kingsolver spent a lot of time delivering mini-lectures on how bad large agricultural farms and the food they produce are for you, how bad processed food and food additives are, etc etc. I already know this and, I suspect, does most of her audience. I found myself skipping over these boring parts especially the bits about shortsighted USA government policy, things like farm subsidies for growing corn and soybeans most of which are used to make processed food.
Despite the lectures, this book is a worthwhile read and really picks up when she starts telling the wonderful story of her heirloom roosters.
Like Kingsolver says If all you have are a few pots on your apartment balcony you can still produce some of your own food, tomatoes and herbs grow well in pots, and still have the satisfaction of playing your own part in producing your daily bread.