Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
When this book was suggested for August's Kitchen Reader, I was not too happy. As I've mentioned before, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a book about a family that eats local food for a year. I was upset because I knew I would agree with the sentiments of the book and not be able to do anything about it. Kingsolver (usually a novelist) and her family of husband and two daughters take on an old farm, start growing their own vegetables, raising turkeys, producing eggs from their own hens, and shopping at farmers' markets. They spend a year researching and reading and writing about local food, and this book is the result. It only slightly helped me that the writing was by turns gigglingly funny and very astute. I find local food a hard concept here in Hong Kong.
I have written before about the local milk debate; I think the difficulties I faced over this simple issue had been blinding me to what I can do to eat more locally. I see now that local vegetables and fruit are very available to me. It takes a bit of label reading at the grocery store, but I can see that there are lots of veggies on sale from China. I have to turn down the "fresh by air" peppers, tomatoes, and spinach, but instead pick the amaranth, choy sum, and strange looking squashes.
Kingsolver, who co-wrote this book with her husband and elder daughter, argues compellingly in defense of local food and seasonal eating. And she entertained and cajoled me into resolving to try out some of her ideas. For example, I see that I could easily start making soft cheese. (I've attempted mascarpone once before. I now want cheese-making supplies for my birthday, take note!) And there is one organic farmers' market that I have discovered so far in Hong Kong, so I have been there a couple of times on a Sunday. I don't think I'm going to be able to raise egg laying hens, and sadly I can't grow a garden at the moment, either. But this book turned out to be an enjoyable and friendly account of a topic I was trying to avoid. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is an excellent, recommended read. Be sure to click over to see what other Kitchen Readers had to say. Thanks to Karen of Shortbread South for choosing what turned out to be a great book.