"Take a minute to study this creation – an imaginary plant that bears over the course of one growing season a cornucopia of all the different vegetable products we can harvest. We’ll call it a vegetannual ..."
As Barbara Kingsolver and her family embark on a year of living off the land, they realize that they will be eating whatever the land is offering at that particular time of year. If the asparagus are in season, you eat a lot of asparagus. And for the times of year when the land isn't offering up much food, you prepare ahead by freezing, drying, and canning the harvest grown for just that reason. In December one didn't go to the grocery story and buy a tomato that was picked unripe in South America, shipped thousands of miles in refrigerated storage, and made to look red with ethylene gas that doesn't taste like much of anything. No they ate the fruits of their own garden that had ripened naturally and they had taken the time to preserve for the winter. They ate a much better tasting tomato and didn't waste the transportation gas and refrigeration energy to get it either.
But eating food in season from local sources is not the norm for most Americans. Kingsolver writes, "It had felt arbitrary when we sat around the table with our shopping list, making our rules. It felt almost silly to us in fact, as it may now seem to you. Why impose restrictions on ourselves? Who cares?" Kingsolver advocates the pleasures and ethics of seasonal eating, but she acknowledges that many people would view this as deprivation "because we've grown accustomed to the botanically outrageous condition of having everything always."
Do you believe that American society can—or will— overcome the need for instant gratification in order to be able to eat seasonally? How does Kingsolver present this aspect in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle? Did you get the sense that she and her family ever felt deprived in their eating options? How can eating seasonally be seen as a spiritual discipline?
Labels: Animal Vegetable Miracle, Book Discussions