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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

Critic Reviews

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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Story

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  • Overall

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

  • Overall

good book, especially good audio

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.

17 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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

  • Overall
  • Pamela
  • Coral Springs, FL, United States
  • 09-14-08

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

  • Overall
  • Carolyn
  • Seattle, WA, USA
  • 08-19-07

Non-audio might be better

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.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Barna
  • Elkridge, MD, United States
  • 07-11-08

Started out good; but then let me down

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.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Life goals

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book, I felt a connection to the author and as though I was with her on her journey to a year of food. I hope to one day be able to grow as much food as my family needs. The information linked through the story was very interesting and I kept telling my husband all the things I learned throughout the book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Self Righteously Terrible

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Yikes. This book is about how sad and unhealthy the rest of the world is in comparison to her family. A long over the top celebration of their life style. Learned very very little about how to actually DO anything with the land.

What didn’t you like about the narrators’s performance?

Narration was a fail, over-the-top self narration.

What else would you have wanted to know about Barbara Kingsolver’s life?

Absolutely nothing. Already know too much.

Any additional comments?

This author clearly has a background in literature. Therefore she is very happy to finally write her very own book. Result? Every sentence is over written. I want my money back

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

If you think her fiction is great...

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

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.

What did you like best about this story?

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.

Have you listened to any of the narrators???s other performances before? How does this one compare?

no

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Really enlightening & informative

Would you listen to Animal, Vegetable, Miracle again? Why?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful