"Animal Vegetable Miracle," by Barbara Kingslover, tells the story of a family who commit themselves to eating locally for a full year. They move to a piece of farm land they own in Southern Appalachia, and start to live off the land. The rule was they could only eat food they grew themselves, or that they could purchase locally. There were a couple exceptions, but for the most part, everything was local.
One of the things this book focuses on is the importance of buying food in season. It's a way of eating that has nearly disappeared from our lifestyle. Certain foods grow at certain times of they year, which is when they are meant to be eaten. I've become so accustomed to seeing the same fruits and vegetables in the supermarket each week that I had nearly forgotten this. The great thing about eating produce in season is it lets you know that it is in it's freshest and most nutritious state. It can also help you to understand what food is grown locally and it allows you to avoid food shipped from thousands of miles away.
A particular part of the book I liked were the recipes. Every few chapters, it gave a set of recipes they used for that particular season, based on what food was available. There were some great recipes in there, which showed how creative the family could get with the ingredients on hand in their house. Instead of limiting them to certain recipes, eating locally seemed to enhance their choices. It allowed them to make things they may have never made before. Also, making dinner each night from scratch seemed to bring their family together in a way that could not be achieved otherwise, as everyone got to play a role in the process.
It was interesting to read how the family's outlook toward this year changed. At first, it seemed like a bit of a challenge, giving up some of the foods they enjoyed and were accustomed to. However, without realizing it, it just became a part of their lives. By the end of the book, Kingslover even said there was no countdown to the end of this year. In fact, they did not even keep track. As the time went by, this way of eating became important to them and ingrained into their lifestyles.
"Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" is an inspiring book about our relationship to food. It shows how much more we appreciate the things we eat when we grow it ourselves and support our neighbors.