Book Review: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I wanted to share a recommendation for a book I just finished – Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver. I love Kingsolver as a fiction writer; The Poisonwood Bible is a great read, and definitely worth checking out. However, this particular book slipped past me. I saw it on my Goodreads recommended list recently and decided to check it out – and boy, am I glad I did.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is Kingsolver’s account of her family’s attempts to end their reliance on industrial farming. They committed to eat only food that they had grown themselves or acquired from a local source for a span of one year. The book draws on that year, spanning April to March, for its structure; each month represents a chapter in the text, so as you progress through the book, you follow the natural growing season. Accompanying Kingsolver’s masterful prose are additional sections written by her husband, Steven, providing additional context and information about certain topics, and by her daughter, Camille, including recipes and meal plans.

Now, I live in a city just outside of Boston. Between our challenging climate and my pitiful backyard, I certainly don’t think that I could replicate this experiment any time soon. However, reading this book did make me more conscious about the foods I consume. Kingsolver repeatedly stresses how much better food tastes when it’s eaten in season, from a local source. She provides a lot of information about heirloom varieties of produce, and educates her readers on the importance of understanding where your meat comes from, as well. Kingsolver’s family raises turkeys and chickens (which are used both for eggs and for meat) in addition to their produce farming.

I loved this book because it didn’t read like a promotional treatise on eating locally; Kingsolver and her family were engaging characters and I enjoyed learning about their experience of changing their eating habits over the course of the year-long experiment. That said, it also made me think about my own eating habits, and what I could do differently. After reading the book, I spent some time looking into my own options for eating locally and purchasing meat from small farms instead of from large grocery chains. My city unfortunately doesn’t have a farmers market, and those are tough to come by in New England during the winter season, but I found some great home delivery options that I’m excited to try.

I registered for a biweekly Dogma Box delivery through Boston Organics. The Dogma box, also known as the Local Box, is priced at $29. It features produce that is grown as close to Boston as possible, making it closer to a true CSA box. Boston Organics offers a variety of other home delivery options, but it was important to me that I choose the option that kept things as local as possible. My first delivery is due this weekend; normally I’ll receive my boxes on Fridays, but the snowstorm threw everything off. I can’t wait to review the service! The website lets you see what’s coming in the weekly box, which I love, as it gives me time to research recipes before the delivery. As expected for this time of year, my local box will have a variety of root veggies, which keep better in the winter (beets, carrots, celeriac, turnips, and potatoes will all be landing on my doorstop). I’m also getting some sunchokes, which I’ve never tried before, so bring on the experimentation! One great feature of the Boston Organics service is that they offer grocery add-ons from local suppliers. I’ll be getting whole grain bread baked fresh that day, local farm fresh eggs, and a few cheese varieties to try out. You can customize your grocery add-ons to be a standing order that ships with your regular box, or as a one-time add-on.

In addition to produce delivery, I also signed up for monthly meat delivery from Walden Local Meat Co. This company is committed to partnering with local farms that produce sustainable, pasture-raised meat, free from hormones or antibiotics. They offer several different options for delivery; I opted for the $79 6-7 pound full share, which includes a variety of beef, lamb, pork, and chicken. When ordering, you can specify preferences – ground meat, roasts, chops, etc – and also exclude certain meats if they aren’t your favorite options. As with Boston Organics, Walden allows you to add on to your monthly order; they send an email out prior to the monthly shipment and let you choose from their monthly featured additions. I haven’t gotten my first email yet so I don’t know what they tend to feature, but I have heard amazing things about their pasture-raised fresh eggs! My first delivery will come in February and I’ll be sure to review it then. If you’re interested in trying them out, there’s a space on the order form to indicate where you heard about them. Mention my name (Colleen Myers) and receive $10 off your first order. 

 

Disclaimer: I did not receive sponsorship from any of the products featured here. The Amazon links to the book are affiliate links. All opinions are my own, and I pay for my deliveries from Boston Organics and Walden Local Meat Co. 

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