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Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - Week 2
"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?

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posted by Julie at 12:27 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


4 Comments:


  • At 5/13/2008 01:58:00 PM, Blogger kristi

    i'm new to the "emerging women" blog; a friend pointed me here recently. wow! so exciting to know you all are here. my husband has gone to lots of gatherings but i have never had the chance to go and connect with any of you before.

    anyway, i didn't know about this kingsolver book but loved poisonwood bible. i haven't read this yet, but the discussion going on makes me want to.

    i can say that i definitely think for me eating locally and organically feels more and more like a spiritual act. thinking of eating what comes from my own backyard so to speak, and helping out and giving back to the community in that way, and also thinking that it might help sustain our planet (or at least not contribute to its demise) feels like worship.

    and we are trying our hand at a very small garden also this year. i can't get enough of going out there and just standing among the plants and waiting for everything to be ready to eat. honestly this feels the most spiritual of all (for obvious reasons)!

    thanks again for being here. looking forward to reading more of what everyone has to say.

     
  • At 5/13/2008 05:57:00 PM, Anonymous mel

    This book is on my "to-read" list, but I'll respond to the question How can eating seasonally be seen as a spiritual discipline?

    Like kristi, I am making my first foray into gardening this year (mostly spurred on by The Omnivore's Dilemma), longing for the connection with the earth that comes from growing, nurturing, and harvesting our own food.

    When I buy from the farmer's market and pick up my CSA box, I feel that I am participating in justice-making, in caretaking of this earth, in a spiritual act in which I can be thankful for the air and rain and sun and hands that have grown this food.

    And conversely, as I've begun to be more mindful of the miracle of life that comes to me in the food I eat, it's harder to eat "fake" food and enjoy it. Following a long trail of complex chemically-synthesized ingredients to the plants they first came from doesn't have quite the same effect!

     
  • At 5/14/2008 10:52:00 AM, Blogger Julie

    I honestly didn't realize how good food could taste until I joined a CSA and started growing my own. The idea of food that is actually allowed to ripen instead of just made to look ripe seems like a no-brainer, but we've apparently been okay with giving that luxury up in favor of food on demand.

     
  • At 5/14/2008 01:14:00 PM, Blogger Janice

    Do you believe that American society can—or will— overcome the need for instant gratification in order to be able to eat seasonally?

    Can it Yes. Will it, probably not. But I think its worth keeping (or getting) the conversation going. I know since reading the book, I have brought up the topic with a great number of people. I guess I consider that a start or step in the right direction.

    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?
    Not deprived necessarily, but I think they missed certain things. Its a bit of a conscious sacrifice, even though there are other things that are gained.

    How can eating seasonally be seen as a spiritual discipline?
    For me this is a journey spiritually in many ways. I am acting in a more conscious manner in relation to my fellow persons, both locally and abroad. Its a reminder that my choices affect others. And its a decision to try to make ethical choices.

    I am also much more aware of what God is 'doing' in terms of the earth, the weather, creation...what is local to me? God provides. :) And to taste that goodness, well, its a thankful thing.
    ~janice

     

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