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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (Kingsolver) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews 
What is likely to win the most converts, though, is the joy Kingsolver takes in food. She isn’t just an ardent preserver, following the summertime canning rituals of her farming forebears. She’s also an ardent cook, and there’s some lovely food writing here.
Korby Kummer - New York Times


This is a serious book about important problems. Its concerns are real and urgent. It is clear, thoughtful, often amusing, passionate and appealing. It may give you a serious case of supermarket guilt, thinking of the energy footprint left by each out-of-season tomato, but you'll also find unexpected knowledge and gain the ability to make informed choices about what—and how—you're willing to eat.
Bunny Crumpacker - Washington Post


Anyone who read and appreciated The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan [see LitLovers Reading Guide] will want to read Barbara Kingsolver’s book.
Roanoke Times


Kingsolver dresses down the American food complex…These down-on-the-farm sections are inspiring and…compelling.
Outside Magazine


In her engaging though sometimes preachy new book, Kingsolver recounts the year her family attempted to eat only what they could grow on their farm in Virginia or buy from local sources. The book's bulk, written and read by Kingsolver in a lightly twangy voice filled with wonder and enthusiasm, proceeds through the seasons via delightful stories about the history of their farmhouse, the exhausting bounty of the zucchini harvest, turkey chicks hatching and so on. In long sections, however, she gets on a soapbox about problems with industrial food production, fast food and Americans' ignorance of food's origins, and despite her obvious passion for the issues, the reading turns didactic and loses its pace, momentum and narrative. Her daughter Camille contributes recipes, meal plans and an enjoyable personal essay in a clear if rather monotonous voice. Hopp, Kingsolver's husband and an environmental studies professor, provides dry readings of the sidebars that have him playing "Dr. Scientist," as Kingsolver notes in an illuminating interview on the last disc. Though they may skip some of the more moralizing tracks, Kingsolver's fans and foodies alike will find this a charming, sometimes inspiring account of reconnecting with the food chain.
Publishers Weekly


Best-selling novelist Kingsolver and her family moved from Tucson, AZ, to the fertile lands of Southern Appalachia, where agriculture is an accepted excuse for absence from school, to undertake an experiment of sorts. The family joined the locavore movement, which promotes eating only what is locally raised, grown, and produced. This account of their ongoing experiment is a family affair: daughter Lily morphs into a poultry entrepreneur; daughter Camille, a college student, sprinkles her own anecdotes and seasonal menus throughout; and essays by Kingsolver's husband, Hopp, an academic, warn of the high cost of chemical pesticides, fossil fuels, and processed foods environmentally, financially, and on our health. Patience is a virtue in this undertaking, which calls for eating only what is in season; however, Kingsolver's passion for food and near sensual delight in what she pulls from her garden make the enterprise seem enticing. The author's narration is homey, folksy, and warm; Camille and Hopp narrate as well. Part memoir, part how-to, and part agricultural education, this book is both timely and entertaining. With Kingsolver's broad readership; a large movement toward organic, healthful eating; and heavy media attention on the subject, expect demand. Recommended for public libraries.
Risa Getman - Library Journal


With some assistance from her husband, Steven, and 19-year-old daughter, Camille, Kingsolver (Prodigal Summer, 2000, etc.) elegantly chronicles a year of back-to-the-land living with her family in Appalachia. After three years of drought, the author decamped from her longtime home in Arizona and set out with Steven, Camille and younger daughter Lily to inhabit fulltime his family's farm in Virginia. Their aim, she notes, was to "live in a place that could feed us," to grow their own food and join the increasingly potent movement led by organic growers and small exurban food producers. Kingsolver wants to know where her food is coming from: Her diary records her attempts to consume only those items grown locally and in season while eschewing foods that require the use of fossil fuels for transport, fertilizing and processing. (In one of biologist Steven's terrific sidebars, "Oily Food," he notes that 17 percent of the nation's energy is consumed by agriculture.) From her vegetable patch, Kingsolver discovered nifty ways to use plentiful available produce such as asparagus, rhubarb, wild mushrooms, honey, zucchini, pumpkins and tomatoes; she also spent a lot of time canning summer foods for winter. The family learned how to make cheese, visited organic farms and a working family farm in Tuscany, even grew and killed their own meat. "I'm unimpressed by arguments that condemn animal harvest," writes Kingsolver, "while ignoring, wholesale, the animal killing that underwrites vegetal foods." Elsewhere, Steven explores business topics such as the good economics of going organic; the losing battle in the use of pesticides; the importance of a restructured Farm Bill; mad cow disease; and fairtrade. Camille, meanwhile, offers anecdotes and recipes. Readers frustrated with the unhealthy, artificial food chain will take heart and inspiration here.
Kirkus Reviews




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