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wisekaren's picture

I finished "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" yesterday and am trying to think of some way to describe it other than LIFE-CHANGING. I had thought I was pretty good in terms of conscientious purchasing habits, but it turns out I have quite a ways to go. WOW. I am positively giddy with excitement thinking of how I can incorporate her teachings into my own life.
Karen

madnoodle's picture

I read it last spring, and felt the same way. 

Saskatchewan:  our mountain-removal project is nearly complete.

What if there were no hypothetical questions?

 

wisekaren's picture

Did you make permanent changes in your life? If so, what? I'm trying to figure out what I can do, short of moving to a farm in Appalachia and raising heritage turkeys. (And wasn't the "turkey sex" chapter priceless?) Certainly I can buy locally whenever available and organic as much as possible, get to know and support my local farmers -- perhaps even join a CSA, eschew agribusiness products and byproducts, and so on, but what else?

I will never give up bananas and citrus fruits, I know myself well enough for that.
Karen

Canuck's picture

I felt the same way after reading it--except I won't be moving to Appalachia :)


I'm looking at produce signs every time now, going to Farmers' Markets when I can, and buying chicken from a butcher who sells free-range Mennonite chickens (happy chickens, as I like to think of them). I realize that this is a limited effort, but it's what I can do so far. Plus, any differences I make, and those I talk about, make a difference to those around me.


 

wisekaren's picture

Well, as her husband points out, "If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country's oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week. That's not gallons, but barrels." That's doable, no?
Karen

MadMom's picture

Doable for us, of course, but we're only a small drop in the bucket.  Probably not doable for the people who subsist on McDonald's and wouldn't know a homecooked meal, much less one made from locally grown stuff, if it bit them you know where.



Not One More Day!
Not One More Dime! Not One More Life! Not One More Lie!

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wisekaren's picture

So then WE need to do it twice a week. <wg>
Karen

shywoodlandcreature's picture

I read this book last spring,and found it just amazingly inspirational, without being the slightest bit preachy. It, along with "Omnivore's Dilemma", really affirmed my attitude towards food, making me more determined to eat as locally as I can -- it was really the impetus behind us putting in a vegetable garden this year. So far we've really only harvested a couple of salads and some new potatoes, but it really has us thinking about how to produce more next year. I spent yesterday feeling very pioneerish, as I smoked up another 20 lbs of locally-grown tomatoes, froze corn (also local)and made up a huge batch of applesauce, all with the winter months in mind. We're probably not going to give up bananas, coffee, mangoes, or chocolate, but we are planning on getting much more involved with things like the local branch of the Slow Food Movement.





"the meat was prime,/the produce sublime,/but nevertheless/the dinner was/a horrible mess."
Samchang, 2007

MadMom's picture

Do you still have the book?  If so, I will borrow it and read it while I'm there, if that's okay.  If not, I'll buy a copy.  I love her writing, so might buy one anyway, just to have it.



Not One More Day!
Not One More Dime! Not One More Life! Not One More Lie!

End the Occupation of Iraq -- Bring the Troops Home Now!

And Take Care of Them When They Get Here!

shywoodlandcreature's picture

I lent my copy to Lee at Vista 'd'Oro earlier this summer - if I get out to her place I'll see if I can get it back. You're more than welcome to it.

Edit to add: you'll love it -- she's so funny, so astute, and so down-to-earth! This is definitely a book to read and reread.

"the meat was prime,/the produce sublime,/but nevertheless/the dinner was/a horrible mess."
Samchang, 2007


Edited 8/26/2007 7:45 pm by shywoodlandcreature

wisekaren's picture

No, she does not get preachy (well, perhaps a wee bit at the end) -- I more often found myself thinking that she and I could be great friends! I really do believe that the slightest effort each of us makes will make a difference.
Karen

shywoodlandcreature's picture

Personally I took great delight in finding that she is not a vegetarian, and is quite eloquent about the merits of eating meat. I don't remember any preachiness at the end, but then it's been about six months since I read the book. Mostly I remember her humour and passion.





"the meat was prime,/the produce sublime,/but nevertheless/the dinner was/a horrible mess."
Samchang, 2007

wisekaren's picture

Yes, I too particularly enjoyed her "justification" for eating meat. Very sensible IMNSHO.
Karen

Canuck's picture

Yes, it's totally doable. Since I read her book, I cannot help think of strawberries in terms of exhaust. We live in Toronto, and that's a really long drive from California. Do I need those strawberries, or should I pick even more of the local ones to freeze to stretch through the winter? I know making these changes will take time, and I can't change everything we eat, but if I do my bit and you do your bit, who knows what we can achieve? <steps off soapbox>

madnoodle's picture

Yeah, I was all set to move to Appalachia and take up subsistence farming too, til DH told me to give my head a shake . . .


Unfortunately, it's a bit of a trick here, in ag zone 2A.  That said, I made more of an effort with the garden this year:  dug in lots of compost and planted things compactly, instead of strewing them hither and yon like I usually do (I may have planted the tomatoes TOO compactly--we now have a tomato forest).  I bought all my tomato plants and many of my flowers from growers at the farmers' market, rather than just grabbing whatever was cheapest at the grocery store.  I've always been a big supporter of our farmers' market, but this year have really concentrated on buying even more than I usually do, and freezing the excess.  I'm reading labels on produce more often--sadly, it's tough to find much that's local--or even near-local-- in the grocery store.  All of our eggs are from a colleague of  DH's, who raises chickens.  It's actually pretty easy to find local meat and poultry; it's the produce that's tough.  I know myself well enough to admit that I'm not going to spend the entire winter eating cabbage, onions, and potatoes. 


Saskatchewan:  our mountain-removal project is nearly complete.

What if there were no hypothetical questions?

 

Jean's picture

And I'm sorry, I don't have then energy to do the gardening and the 'putting by' that youngsters like Leigh and Co do, nor do we have the lengthy growing season. I really admire those of you who can do that, I used to be one of you, but for now I'm really thankful that I can get fresh broccoli and beans and cauliflower just about any time of the year. Even the blinkin' canned stuff has to get trucked here from somewhere, so what's the big deal? I like to buy locally when I can, but if I can't--shrug--I'm thankful it's there and we can still afford it.  I pretty much decided just now to give the book a pass. :)




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wisekaren's picture

You're doing better than I am; I still don't even have a garden -- but I do have free access to my neighbor's garden! :-) I know I'm not the type to subsist on rhubarb and butternut squash all winter, but if I can make a few more conscientious choices each week, then it's better than nothing. It seems to me that the worst thing one can do is just shrug and say, "Well, if I can't do it all, then it's not worth doing anything at all." What an inspiration this book has been for me!
Karen

madnoodle's picture

I still don't even have a garden -- but I do have free access to my neighbor's garden!


We're lucky there too--our neighbours have an ENORMOUS garden, and put us (30 years younger than they are) to shame with all their hard work.  Beth's always bringing over a pail of beans or carrots or cucumbers--and she begs us to come and pick apples every September.  In return, I send over a little of whatever I'm baking, a jar of jam, etc.  We both think we're getting the better end of the deal.


Saskatchewan:  our mountain-removal project is nearly complete.

What if there were no hypothetical questions?

 

wisekaren's picture

Our elderly neighbors give us veggies and herbs, and we let them be surrogate grandparents to our kids. Everybody wins! :-)
Karen

TracyK's picture

the worst thing one can do is just shrug and say, "Well, if I can't do it all, then it's not worth doing anything at all."


Very true... but I'd wager there's nobody on this board who falls into that camp. ;-)


CT poster in bad standing since 2000.

samchang's picture

They're different books, I know, but as much as I agree with her project (which is probably a way of life for them now) and like some of her writing, I found Pollan's to be much more moving. She does give a great argument against vegetarianism, however.

A nice book for me; a great person with whom I share many important things politically and ideologically. But not a life changing book.

gmunger's picture

I mostly agree. Pollan's book was more thought-provoking. I learned more. And btw, this book also contains some good arguments in defense of eating meat.


But I also enjoyed A, V, M immensely. She is a great writer, and the book is a joy to read. And it is amazingly not preachy (as opposed to me).


I like that she spent so much time discussing preserving the harvest, which I think doesn't get enough play in all the discussion of locavorism out there. I go into a tizzy when I hear folks complain that local food is not available all year. Is our cultural memory only two generations long?! How in the world did our ancestors ever make do? (Hint, no television leaves more spare time?)


I visit the midweek version of our local farmer's market, in addition to growing some of our own veggies. I had bad luck germinating green beans this year. Not sure why. But I found a local farm that had really tasty green beans, so last week I asked them to bring extra for me this week. I'll take a large amount home, then blanch and freeze. Not homegrown, but just as tasty. And much better than anything I could find in the store this winter in so many ways.

 

We are truly what we eat, and too many people are fast, cheap and easy. Who owns your food owns you, and it is unwise to let that power rest in the hands of a very few wealthy corporations.
TracyK's picture

I'm all for putting stuff by, and eating locally but honestly, there is no way in hell that I'd be able to accomplish something like that, even if I wanted to. I don't believe it's realistic to expect most people (families or single folks) to do so, either.


The expense alone would be prohibitive... $2.75/lb for local green beans in July, vs. $0.79 for a huge bag of frozen beans in December. And when I consider the time and expense to can and process? No effing way.


Our ancestors likely grew their own food, had root cellars for storage, and did not work 40-60 hours a week outside the home, with long traffic-laden commutes. Their children did not participate in sports, artistic pursuits, or school or extracurricular activities. The entire family worked on growing and preserving food.


I've said it before, but I'll keep saying it. The vast majority of folks in this country do not have the luxury of choosing to eat local, seasonal, organic ingredients 100% of the time.


CT poster in bad standing since 2000.

shywoodlandcreature's picture

Agreed, we can't do it 100% of the time, but I think most of us can manage to make some effort - maybe 25% of the time? Do we really need strawberries in February? And if we do, then how much effort is it to freeze a few batches of the local ones in June? (Okay, that's assuming you have a freezer -- not always realistic, I know). And yes, buying locally is more expensive than the bulk buys available in the supermarket, but shouldn't we encourage local diversity and agriculture? There are other places to economize -- maybe fewer lattes a week, or foregoing the case of soft drinks, or other non-essential items. (And no, that is not directed at you -- it's a generalization). As I see it, it's all about priorities, and doing what we can.





"the meat was prime,/the produce sublime,/but nevertheless/the dinner was/a horrible mess."
Samchang, 2007

gmunger's picture

Thank you.


Previously I wrote: I go into a tizzy when I hear folks complain that local food is not available all year.


This is a subset of my general tizzy in response to strict binary thinking; black or white, with us or against us, right or wrong, all or nothing. The world I live in is full of ambiguity. I think Barbara Kingsolver also lives in this world, although I haven't bumped into her in person yet.


As for price vs. value; Micheal Pollan's book, if it does nothing else, makes the case that cheap, industrial food has hidden costs. As the kids say these days, word.

 

We are truly what we eat, and too many people are fast, cheap and easy. Who owns your food owns you, and it is unwise to let that power rest in the hands of a very few wealthy corporations.
shywoodlandcreature's picture

I agree -- Pollan's book has had a profound impact on how I view food and its costs (all of its costs, not just the sticker price). Kingsolver reinforces that impact. But it has always driven me nuts to hear people complain about the high cost of food, when what constitutes "food" is, more often than not, the toy-food stuff like pop and chips that lands in their grocery carts. Now, having said all that, I'm pretty sure that if I were a single mom trying to feed a family on a limited budget, I'd compromise my standards to the extent of buying factory-farmed chicken for $1.50 lb., rather than the free-range/organic, $4.00 lb. birds I prefer.





"the meat was prime,/the produce sublime,/but nevertheless/the dinner was/a horrible mess."
Samchang, 2007

gmunger's picture

Indeed, the food "problem" we speak of cannot be viewed, much less solved, in isolation from the larger contexts of our political, social, economic, and environmental crises. If one has only x dollars to spend on food, how is it possible to purchase x+y, even knowing that x is much less "healthy" than x+y? And even if we could raise this person out of their economic depression enough to afford x+y, how is this person to understand the benefits of a more "healthful" option, when government and the food "industry" conspire to hide the facts of the matter?

 

We are truly what we eat, and too many people are fast, cheap and easy. Who owns your food owns you, and it is unwise to let that power rest in the hands of a very few wealthy corporations.
shywoodlandcreature's picture

This is a subject close to my heart, but I don't have the time right now to delve deeply into it. I have to wonder, though, how it's so easy to sell "quality", or at least the perception of it, in automobiles, televisions, running shoes, clothing, everything but food. Why is the general public convinced that a Mercedes is better than a Ford, and a NIke shoe beats a no-name, but when it comes to the stuff we eat, a chicken is a chicken, and a strawberry is a strawberry. Why don't the same people who'll shell out $$$ for a name-brand HDTV see a corrrelation between the price of a free-range egg and its inherent value as food?





"the meat was prime,/the produce sublime,/but nevertheless/the dinner was/a horrible mess."
Samchang, 2007

wisekaren's picture

Oh, you've hit my hot button with that one. Why, indeed?
Karen

Marcia's picture

I think the rather simple answer to your question is that people are no longer taught to shop for food and cook, and know next to nothing about *real* food. It shocks me to realize just how many families eat at fast food places and chains MOST of the time. Some of these are people I know, so I'm not just guessing. My impression is they have no idea of what good food is and don't even care.

gmunger's picture

Because it hasn't been marketed that way. Until people stop accepting, consciously or otherwise, what the marketers and advertisers are telling them as fact, people will continue to be hoodwinked. Kraft Foods, Coca Cola, etc.....modern day snake oil salesmen.


I took plenty of marketing classes in college, including food marketing. So much of it is either a) trying to create a percieved "need" where there wasn't one before, or b) simply trying to pass off a turd as a nugget of gold. It's why I got out of the business. I finally realized I was stressing out every day over how many cases of worthless crapola I had to sell; and what good was it doing in the world?

 

We are truly what we eat, and too many people are fast, cheap and easy. Who owns your food owns you, and it is unwise to let that power rest in the hands of a very few wealthy corporations.