Animal, Vegetable, Miracle follows the family through the first year of their experiment. They find themselves eager to move away from the typical food scenario of American families: a refrigerator packed with processed, factory-farmed foods transported long distances using nonrenewable fuels. In their search for another way to eat and live, they begin to recover what Kingsolver considers our nation's lost appreciation for farms and the natural processes of food production. Americans spend less of their income on food than has any culture in the history of the world, but they pay dearly in other ways: losing the flavors, diversity, and creative food cultures of earlier times. The environmental costs are also high, and the nutritional sacrifice is undeniable: on our modern industrial food supply, Americans are now raising the first generation of children to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.
Part memoir and part journalistic investigation, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle makes a passionate case for putting the kitchen back at the center of family life and diversified farms at the center of the American diet.
©2007 Barbara Kingsolver; (P)2007 HarperCollins Publishers
"Kingsolver has the ear of a journalist and the accuracy of a naturalist." (Publishers Weekly)
This is a good book in any form (I have a paper copy too), though it is not a scientific reference manual. Those interested in the details should really read more widely because Kingsolver gets some stuff wrong (including part of her core theses). But the broad sweeps are excellent and she does a good job of painting a picture, and teaching lessons, in terms you will not soon forget. But what really sets it apart as an aural experience is the narration by the authors, which is personable and perfectly recorded and paced. As another reviewer suggested, you really feel connected to them through their narration, bringing another level to the experience of this captivating story and analysis. Without hearing her wax about it, I would never be inclined to plant asparagus! This is particularly good road-trip listening, as you drive through the in-between spaces where most of our food is produced (and also because the radio-style pace is better for driving than some audiobooks which are distracting or sleep-inducing). Even if you have read the paper version, get this and listen to it again in a year, and you will enjoy it again.
First of all, I almost always like when the author/biographer reads the book and especially enjoyed this one. When I first saw the summary on this book - I didn't order it because I didn't want to hear about how animals are "processed". However, that subject was handled very well (knew what happened but didn't have to hear the gory details) plus there were no pigs or cows that were "famred. I learned so much and even bought the hard book to send to my dad (an amateur gardener). I already enjoy organic food whenever I can and now feel better about the people who farm it and the extra price. Really loved it. While her political views are not surprising liberal - I am glad to see that she understands that changes can and should not be forced by gov't. This book probably did more than a million programs!!!
This may be one of the few audiobooks that would be better in the abridged form or just left as a book. I would have liked to skip through some of the sermons. Unfortunately, Kingsolver's sing-songy reading style also annoyed me. I listen in my car, and had to turn the volume on high so I could hear the end of each sentence -- when she apparently runs out of breath and drops out. HOWEVER, her story is fascinating and I learned a lot. I'd just recommend listening to a snippet first to see if you can handle her kindergarten-teacher reading style.
I really liked the way the book began; chronicling the year of local food and discussion of the food industry in this country. I started to lose it, however, when she went into making their own cheese and then the tours of some small farmers' operations. It started to get too preachy and seemed to prattle on without the realization that most readers would not be interested in making their own cheese (or sausage or whatever), and she just kept going on about it. Also had a touch of one of the "simple life" books which I have enjoyed in the past, it is true, but I don't expect here because she is a best selling author and presumably well off. I thought the "asides" by the daughter were absolutely not necessary and preachy as well and I have a hard time being preached to by a girl in her teens or early twenties.
I have already reccomended this to quite a few friends and hosted a book group to discuss it. I will continue bringing it to the attention of the many readers at my Library.
Barbara not only writes with wit and charm but narrates with soothing clarity and is incredibly easy on one's ears. The additional sections from her husband and eldest daughter are very well done, and have been bookmarked to refer to their statistics and wonderful recipes. If this book doesn't make you think about how you are living and what you are putting in your mouth, I don't believe you are really listening. If you have the slightest interest in food or gardening this is a must-listen. Non-fiction that reads like fiction is hard to find and their farm life and travels take me to a beautiful place full of sun and tomato leaves. It's realism does not leave me despondent. It is clear that if we try to eat seasonally and locally each of us can make a difference even if we don't aspire to do it perfectly. Contains very practical ideas and educates without lecturing.
Hopefully there will be a revised and updated edition or a sequel in five to ten years.
I have never written a review before but this title demands it. If I could buy a copy for everyone I would. Thank you Ms. Kingsolver for doing such wonderful work with the book and the narration. It is such a joy.
Barbara did a great job with give mounds of information in a very personal story. It really shifted my perspective on life and food. I would listen to it again, and I wish everyone would read/listen to this book.
Botany of Desire
I enjoyed the different prespecitives from the daughter and mother.
Loved the discoveries made along the way and how they grew into the changes and worked things into their life
As an avid organic gardner and now chicken raiser (eggs only thus far) I think so much about the soil growing the soil and how to work with the plants animals and my climate. I loved hearing all the sustanable learning that went on in this book. Yes I also make my own cheese, can, freeze and dry my foods and enjoyed learning anothers personal experiences in these areas and how proud they also are of their stores.
Kingsolver is a master writer. It blows me away that she can take a year-long experiment/ philosophical statement and keep it both entertaining and digestable. While I tended to agree with much if not most of her views about approaching the dilemmas of responsible agriculture production and consumption, I can imagine that some of her statements might rub SOME readers as a bit polemic; still, she relays her views with a good-humored and gentle fair-mindedness that would cause very few to disregard her overall message: this life we are all beneficiaries of is essential to respect and reverence. I particualry appreciate that she (and her two co-authors) are rigorously intellectual and sensible about the information they share. This is solid academic fare, delivered as credible and enlightening story: doesn't get much better than that. Sidenote: it's been my experience that authors are often NOT the best readers of their own work; as I embarked on this listen, I thought the authors' reading was going to cause me to give it up. But with time it improved and, I suspect, we all felt a bit more comfortable.
This book speaks to the principles that I desire to live by. I did learn some, but mostly I was inspired. I'm far from acheiving my goals, but making an effort every day helps. I love Kingsolver's voice and enjoyed the "sidebar" comments from her daughter. It's sort of a documentary and a story. Well worth listening to. The accompanying web site has good recipes and info.
Thank You Barbara Kingsolver for sharing some of your life with us. Thank you for introducing us to your family and sharing some personal anecdotes. Thank you for this true account detailing local, sustainable living and providing context for why you and your family decided to live this way as well as providing resources for anyone wanting to do the same. I'm a tremendous fan of your work and I remain inspired and enthralled.
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