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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life | [Barbara Kingsolver]

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

When Barbara Kingsolver and her family move from suburban Arizona to rural Appalachia, they take on a new challenge: to spend a year on a locally-produced diet, paying close attention to the provenance of all they consume. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle follows the family through the first year of their experiment.
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Publisher's Summary

When Barbara Kingsolver and her family move from suburban Arizona to rural Appalachia, they take on a new challenge: to spend a year on a locally-produced diet, paying close attention to the provenance of all they consume.

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

What the Critics Say

"Kingsolver has the ear of a journalist and the accuracy of a naturalist." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Sydney Mount Laurel, NJ, United States 11-12-07
    Sydney Mount Laurel, NJ, United States 11-12-07 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Eye opening"

    I really enjoyed listening to this book. I'm actually glad that I listened to it instead of reading it--I think listening forced me to slow down and really absorb everything the book says (I tend to read pretty fast). The juxtaposition of the different voices of the authors (Barbara K., Stephen H. and Camille K.) worked very nicely. Some of the points do get repeated a bit throughout the book, which did get a little annoying. However, that did not interfere with my enjoyment.

    The book struck such a chord with me. When I was a child, there wasn't so much transportation of produce and I do remember how excited my mother would get when certain things came "in season." This book really brought all that back. I wish I had read this book in August or July, instead of November! I also appreciated the insight into the corporate food industry. The book makes me want to investigate further.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Niki Santa Monica, CA, USA 06-01-07
    Niki Santa Monica, CA, USA 06-01-07
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    "Bringing Pause to What We Eat"

    Since reading this book I can't reach for a pepper at the grocery store without wondering where it came from, how many miles it traveled, or how it was grown. In fact, I only buy my produce from my local farmer's market and am learning to eat seasonally. How and what I eat hasn't been the same since finishing this book - Barbara Kingsolver invites an intellectual conversation back into the American diet, after decades of forfeiting our knowledge about what's in our food over to the food processing plants and agricultural system. In our hustling bustling lives of today we must learn to take pause and give more thought to what gets us through day by day - our food. This book is a great way to stimulate how you think about what you eat and your relationship with food. Kingsolver's self narration of her book is charming and one of the best I've heard. If you enjoyed Michael Pollen's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" you'll love this book even more.

    19 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Betty Lou Fockler Centerburg OH USA 09-09-07
    Betty Lou Fockler Centerburg OH USA 09-09-07 Member Since 2005
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    "Really Good Book"

    Totally enjoyable and informative! Wasn't sure I wanted to read another book about food and organics, but I'm very glad my friends encouraged that I do so. I didn't particularly enjoy the author's personal narration. As a gardener, food preserver and one who cares greatly about nutrition and good eating, it was very good. As one who owns and loves animals, the chicken and turkey tales were great. Don't miss this book if you care about food sources and learning how easy it is to prepare good food - and how this family did it.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    pterion 11-15-07
    pterion 11-15-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "mixed feelings"

    I think I agree with other reviews that this particular book might be best left to print rather than spoken word.

    Likes:
    I already knew I liked Barbara Kingsolver's books and her particular viewpoint resonates with me. Her knowledgeable and thoughtful observations were well-stated but not dry. She skillfully and lyrically describes the wonder of watching vegetables and animals grow and ponders the ethics and traditions of our food choices. And EATING! The descriptions of mouth-watering meals made me hungry!

    Dislikes:
    I personally didn't respond to the contributions of her husband and daughter in this audiobook. I thought their voices interrupted the narrative and imagine that in the printed text these are sidebars - extras that could be skipped over if you already "got it" that you should only buy fair-trade coffee and that meat from supermarkets is from mistreated animals. There is a preachiness here that even I found tedious as much as I might be in agreement with the POV.

    I think this book could have stood a lot of editing and found it difficult to finish, even though I appreciated the insight into her family's 'experiment'.

    23 of 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Reston, Virginia 06-23-13
    Jean Reston, Virginia 06-23-13 Member Since 2008
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    "Transformative"

    I had just finished reading "Cooked" by Michael Pollan, so I downloaded this book which had been on my wish list for a while. I also recently listened to "Flight Bahavior" and really liked Barbara Kingsolver as the narrator. I was immediately pulled in to the narrative of their year of eating deliberately. I felt really inspired, and realized I was ready for this book.

    Some people found its tone a bit preachy, but it appealed to me because it just made so much sense, as did "Cooked." I started buying nearly all my meat, dairy and produce from our Saturday morning farmers market, and whole wheat bread from a local bakery, as Pollan suggested. I just finally got that Big Agribusiness doesn't much care how healthy and environmentally responsible the products they produce are.

    A supermarket tomato sold in February is inedible and buying it is just dumb. I'm trying not to bore my friends and family; my daughter gives me the eye-roll. I've started to really enjoy meal planning and cooking, and for those of you who are ready for this message, read this book!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tiffany adams center, NY, United States 04-22-12
    Tiffany adams center, NY, United States 04-22-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Perfection."

    This was my first audio book on audible. I LOVED it. I am very picky about my narrators, and the fact that it was the author herself made it that much better. I have the print version of the book but I just could not get into it like other Kingsolver books. So I downloaded the audio version and I can't stop listening! After I finished I just started it again! This book is so inspiring I would look for any recommendations of books just like it. Kingsolver's words are just so poetic that it makes you wish you were there with her canning tomatoes, working in the garden, hunting in the morel patch. I am kind of disappointed that my first audiobook was such a success, because now it is going to be hard to top it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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    Tina Nibley, UT, United States 03-03-09
    Tina Nibley, UT, United States 03-03-09 Member Since 2007

    I'm a mom. I have drama in my life. I don't want books with the F-bomb, nor graphic violence. I read for fun and to bring my family together. I read for reducing stress levels. We have never had a television in our home and our children are now mid twenties to 19. We listen together and look for belly-wrenching laughter. So what is it like to live without a TV? Awesomely educational and inspirational. Each new book is a marvel.

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    "Good, but keep the perspective"

    I gave this audio book 5 stars for the reading, the content and humor along the way. At times, some of the content was too preacher-like and demeaning to the intelligence of common folk. I have overlooked these areas because the overall approach of becoming aware is the most critical part of the book. It certainly takes a cold-turkey jump into buying locally to really appreciate all we (technologically advanced countries) have taken for granted.

    While not everyone needs to follow her footsteps, it was the learning curve needed to be able to share this topic with others.

    So, if you like to be respectful to the Earth, but you won't scream at the woman wearing a silk blouse, or berate the cowboy for wearing leather boots, then this book should be enjoyable. As with all audiobooks, which is very different than a physical paper book, the reading is the key. The book was read by the author, her husband and daughter, and the tone was pleasing. I could not have finished this book if the author were to have read with a hell, fire and damnation tone.
    For this reason alone, I give 5 stars!

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    N. Meyer MN USA 07-08-07
    N. Meyer MN USA 07-08-07 Listener Since 2005

    insectlady

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    "Food for the soul!"

    Barbara Kingsolver and her family created an excellent memoir of their experiences becoming more acquainted with their food lifestyle. The story is compelling, entertaining, and inspiring. I'm ready for change and this book helps show how easy it is to become more in control of your health and nutrition just by selecting food based on the real costs to our environment and our lives. A must read for anyone interested in a healthy, environmentally sustainable life-style.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margaret Bath, NH, USA 06-20-07
    Margaret Bath, NH, USA 06-20-07 Member Since 2006
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    "Wonderful"

    I live in Northern New Hampshire on a working farm where we raise all our own meat..some of our vegetables and all of our eggs and milk. I could indentify with many of the tasks and experiences of the Kingsolver/Hoppe family. I enjoyed every minute of the book and re-listened several times while weeding, cleaning etc. I have recommended it to many of my friends...two of whom (In CT and NM) had purchased the print copy in early May and enjoyed it as well.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela Coral Springs, FL, United States 09-14-08
    Pamela Coral Springs, FL, United States 09-14-08 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Didn't expect to like it but I really enjoyed it!"

    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!!!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
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