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Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - Week 1
Today we start our discussion of Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Telling the story of her family's experiment at being locavores for a year, this book turns one's thoughts to the food we eat. Kingsolver and her family chose to move to an area where they could connect with the community and the land. Their goal was to grow or raise most of their own food and get the rest as locally as possible. In essence, they took the plunge to put into practice their commitment to sustainability, family, and community. Personally, this was one of the most engaging books I read this past year. I enjoyed her storytelling ability to chronicle their day to day adventures and struggles and still manage to be engaging as they detailed the ecological, economic, and justice reasons for why they chose to do this.

In her own words -
"This is the story of a year in which we made every attempt to feed ourselves animals and vegetables whose provenance we really knew . . . and of how our family was changed by our first year of deliberately eating food produced from the same place where we worked, went to school, loved our neighbors, drank the water, and breathed the air."

For more information about the book and eating local, check out the book's website at www.animalvegetablemiracle.com.

To kick off our discussion, I have a few questions -

- Have you ever considered where your food comes from or done the research to find out?

- Is eating healthy, ethically, and humanely a priority for you as a Christian?

- What do you know about sustainability and eating locally?

I look forward to our discussion this month as we use this narrative to explore these issues.

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posted by Julie at 11:33 AM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 5/06/2008 02:33:00 PM, Blogger Janice

    - Have you ever considered where your food comes from or done the research to find out?
    Not until reading the book. Now I think about it a lot and pay much closer attention to it.

    - Is eating healthy, ethically, and humanely a priority for you as a Christian?
    Its definitely a growing one. I have begun locating the local farmer's markets near me. I just did a blog post about a local free range farm I found. And we are planting a small garden so my son can begin learning more about food

    - What do you know about sustainability and eating locally?
    Not much I'm afraid. I'm learning as I go now. :)


  • At 5/06/2008 08:29:00 PM, Anonymous sonja

    I grew up on a small farm, so about 50 percent of our food was grown by us, including our meat (chickens, lamb, and beef ... we traded for pork).

    So ... I often consider where my food comes from and know that it comes from too far away, grown in conditions that are unsavory at best.

    I'm stepping towards a more sustainable diet ... one that is better for my family and for the farmers that grow it and the animals at it's base.

  • At 5/07/2008 08:24:00 PM, Blogger medium guy

    It's really enlightening to learn about the history of how food is distrbuted and "produced" in many areas of the world nowadays - from the canning and preservative industries that sprung up in response to world wars, to the skyrocketing prices of basic staples because now reality is sinking in that we're coming close to the breaking point of outeating our ability to grow them. Also, meat in general is a pretty inefficient way to obtain key nutrients - you have to feed so much grain/vegetable matter or dedicate large areas of land for grazing so animals can spend x amount of time growing before being slaughtered. It would be much more efficient to eat the grains and vegetables themselves and conserve the land.

  • At 5/08/2008 11:49:00 AM, Blogger Lydia

    I haven't read the book yet, but I am getting closer to the top of the library's waiting list! :)

    Yes, eating healthily and ethically is important to me. I've been buying more and more organic food, and I'm also trying to use locally-grown produce when possible.

    Sometimes, I have a choice between buying a product (or a certain type of produce) that is organic or one that is grown locally. In those cases, I'm torn. Should I support the people who produce food here in Ontario, or should I buy food from another province or country that is organic?

  • At 5/08/2008 11:51:00 AM, Blogger Lydia

    Sonja, I didn't grow up on a farm, but my parents did have a garden for most of my childhood. And a good percentage of our meat came from either the deer my Dad hunted or as gifts from family members who had recently slaughtered a cow or two.

  • At 5/08/2008 01:26:00 PM, Blogger Rebekah

    I feel like I've been growing towards the principles expressed in this book my whole life.

    When I was little we ate like most other Southern, American families. When I got a little older my mom got Chronic Fatigue and began to look at nutrition as a way to feel better.

    That started us on a process of healthy eating including buying in bulk from a coop, sharing cows purchased from local farms with family friends, and lots of fresh fruit and vegetable juice combined with numerous supplements. My mom is now a vegetarian.

    I haven't known about seasonal/local eating for very long. And most of the information in this book is new. But it feels so right. I actually feel at home when I read it, as if all of my pioneer, farming ancestors are rising up and saying, "yes!"

    That combined with the egological/environmental issues makes me wonder why we're only learning about this now. And now I really want a garden!

  • At 5/08/2008 02:56:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    Lydia - I know the local vs. organic thing is a question many people have. I think the point is not to be legalistic in these things, but to support what one can. Often by buying locally, one can get to know the farmers and know what their farming practices are. Often they may be basically organic just without the benefit of the costly certification. Similarly something can be labeled organic and still not be ethical. So the more one can get to know the source of one's food (i.e. buy local and get to know your farmer) the better.

  • At 5/09/2008 06:28:00 AM, Blogger wilsford

    we switched to a whole foods, organic diet back in January. We're not super-strict about it, but wow, wow, wow, can we feel the difference! others also rave about how different we look in such terms as "glowing" "radiant" and "fit." (it helps that we work out)

    now when I succumb to the old temptation of sugar-laden highly processed foods, my body tells me by feeling awful, and I realize, holy cow, I used to feel this way all the time.

    side note: our granddaughter was in and out of the hospital emergency room with asthma until her mother put the entire family on a whole foods, organic diet. That convinced us to do it, too.

    Not sure about the "humanely" aspect: We do it out of an increasing regard for our own, personal future. It's an investment in our own future, and yours, too, because the healthier we are as old people, the less burden we are to our family and society.

    In terms of "humane" we focus on buying local products or products available through local small-business vendors, from coffee to bath soap to cars.


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