“We're a nation with an eating disorder, and we know it. The multiple maladies caused by bad eating are taking a dire toll on our health – most tragically for our kids, who are predicted to be this country's first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. That alone is a stunning enough fact to give us pause. So is a government policy that advises us to eat more fruits and vegetables, while doling out subsidies not to fruit and vegetable farmers, but to commodity crops destined to become soda pop and cheap burgers. The Farm Bill, as of this writing, could aptly be called the Farm Kill, both for its effects on small farmers and for what it does to us, the consumers who are financing it. The Green Revolution of the 1970s promised that industrial agriculture would make food cheaper and available to more people. Instead, it has helped more of us become less healthy.”
The paragraph above comes from author Barbara Kingsolver's latest work, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Co-written by her husband Steven Hopp and daughter Camille Kingsolver, it's a chronicle of the family's venture into stepping off the non-sustainable industrial food grid that holds so much of the world in thrall. She goes on to write:
“A majority of North Americans do understand, at some level, that our food choices are politically charged, affecting arenas from rural culture to international oil cartels and global climate change. Plenty of consumers are trying to get off the petroleum-driven industrial food wagon: banning fast food from their homes and schools, avoiding the unpronounceable ingredients lists. However, banning is negative and therefore fails as a food culture per se.”
Planting a garden in the yard of their Virginia home, the Kingsolver-Hopp family members embarked on a year during which they vowed to buy only food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. During that year, the family also raised heirloom turkeys (and learned about turkey sex life), and made discoveries about overly-zealous zucchini and other plants.
“We process and put up almost every kind of fruit and vegetable in late summer, but somehow it's the tomatoes, with their sunny flavor and short shelf life, that demand the most attention. We wish for them at leisure, and repent in haste. Rare is the August evening when I'm not slicing, canning, roasting, and drying tomatoes – often all at the same time. Tomatoes take over our life. When Lily was too young to help, she had to sit out some of the season at the kitchen table with her crayons while she watched me work. The summer she was five, she wrote and illustrated a small book entitled “Mama the Tomato Queen,” which fully exhausted the red spectrum of her Crayola box.”
Whether or not this book inspires you to plant a garden or to raise animals for your own consumption, it's an eye-opening take on one family's year of food life. It may change forever the way you view the produce section at your favorite grocery store. Be sure to read all about it!
Copyright © 2007, S. Halversen.
All Rights Reserved.