Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, further known as AVM, has become one of my very favorite books. I read it for the first time back in 2008 and it changed my life. Seriously. I now have a garden with lots of veggies in it and I go to the Farmer’s Market once a week in the summer and probably every other week in the winter. I now know where my food comes from (well, at least most of it) and it’s all because of Barbara Kingsolver.
When the planting season was almost upon us, I decided it was time for a reread. You know, to get me in the mood to plant things. Even though I really didn’t need encouragement, I couldn’t wait for it to get warm enough to plant yummy things! But what better way to reread this book than have Ms. Kingsolver herself read it to me?
AVM is Kingsolver’s chronicle of how her family stopped using the grocery store and started using the resources that were in their very backyard. They grew their own food, used the Farmer’s Market (ergo: their neighbors), they cooked, they canned, they kept it to a 100 mile radius (I *think* that’s right) all to see if they could! Working together, the whole family was able to provide (most) their own food for the whole year, making it a true family affair. This is one of the things I love most about this book. The audio version of the book is a family affair, with Kingsolver, Hopp her husband, and Camille her daughter all narrating the parts they wrote.
One of the most powerful messages this book has is where our food comes from. The thought of just how much OIL goes into getting our food around this country, especially in light of what is happening in the Gulf is shocking, heartbreaking, and ridiculously expensive and pointless. My buddy Chris over at Stuff As Dreams are Made On just happened to review this book yesterday and I can think of no better way to put this than how he did:
Think of that tomato that you buy in December. It most likely comes from California where it was grown on a giant farm where it’s sprayed with tons of pesticides. On top of that, the tractors used to spray all of those pesticides are using lots of fuel. Then they go through processing and are packaged (more fuel). Then they are loaded onto an eighteen wheeler and shipped to wherever you live (a LOT more fuel). All for that one tomato. Now think of the fuel crisis we’re going through now and how DEPENDENT we all are on gasoline an
d how destructive it has become. For each meal we eat at our dinner table, an underestimate is that we might as well each drink a quart of motor oil when you consider the transport, packaging, and harvest.
Now think about this…you can get MUCH better tasting milk, cheese, oats, meat, vegetables, fruit, seafood, etc at your farmers market or even at the supermarket if your just mindful of where the food comes from. BUY LOCAL. And you stop this chain. The closer to home, the better the taste. Naturally, it’s fresher and it’s gone through less wear and tear. Even better yet, grow what you can. Even in an apartment you can do some patio peppers and tomatoes and herbs! I’m having so much fun with mine Bake your own bread! It’s so easy in a bread maker.
It is not my intention to sound preachy, but it’s hard not to! I’m frustrated with this country and myself, because I know I’m not doing enough and I have changed so much in the last two years. The changes Kingsolver makes are an accumulation of years of changing her family’s eating habits and I hope I am doing the same. All these pictures? They are from my own garden. I am hopeful that I will have enough tomatoes this year to can and use all year until next spring, when I’ll start all over again with an even bigger garden than this year.
Trust me. Growing your own food (or getting it from the farmer’s market!) tastes better than anything you will find in a grocery store.
And you’ll feel good doing it.
Start small. Check out your neighborhood farmer’s market. They are popping up all over the place. Even if you live in an apartment and don’t have a yard, you can grow tomatoes in a pot. I’ve done it! And get this book. Kingsolver has the perfect reading voice, not too fast, not to slow and soothing as a mother singing a lullaby to a baby. All the recipes Camille mentions in the book are also posted on their website. Here is one of the favorites of mine that I have tried.
GRILLED VEGETABLE PANINI
From Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver
Summer squash (an assortment)
Salt and pepper
Slice vegetables lengthwise into strips no thicker than ½ inch. Combine olive oil and spices (be generous with the herbs) and marinate vegetables, making sure all faces of the vegetable slices are covered. Then cook on grill until vegetables are partially blackened, you may want to use grill basket for onions and peppers.
2 loaves French bread (16 to 18 inches)
2 balls mozzarella (8 oz.)
3 large tomatoes
Cut loaves of bread lengthwise. Arrange bread on baking sheets and layer with slices of mozzarella first, grilled vegetables next, and slices of tomato last. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and place the baking sheets under a broiler until cheese in melted. Garnish with leaves of fresh basil. Cut in pieces to serve.[/print_this]
It’s delicious! And if you worry that there isn’t any meat on it, get a Portabello mushroom. It’s so meaty, you won’t miss the meat.
For more recipes, either read the book or visit the Animal, Vegetable, Miracle website. But really, read it, it is such a good book.
Authors: Barbara Kingsolver, Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver
Published by: Harper Audio
On Sale: May 1, 2007
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