Monday, April 26, 2010

Cometh the hour, Cometh the Book

I've had Barbara Kingsolver's book ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE: OUR YEAR OF SEASONAL EATING by my bed since last November. Several times I've picked it up and read a few pages, but got no further. I almost took it back to the London Library (yes, it's fine to have it out that long, unless someone asks for it to be returned). Then last week, I started to read it in earnest and I've almost finished it now. I'm glad I waited. It's the story of how one family decided to spend a year living largely on food they could grow or rear on their small holding in southern Appalachia and on food that had been produced locally. This wasn't just any family. Barbara Kingsolver is a successful author, best-known probably for THE POISONWOOD BIBLE, a very fine novel, and I think she'd be the first to admit that this made the enterprise financially viable. Still, there is much to admire here. I won't be canning my own tomatoes or slaughtering my own turkeys anytime soon, but it is good to reminded why I buy organic and fair-trade food and rarely set foot inside any supermarket except the Co-op. The book made me want to hunt out my nearest farmer's market.
The journal is interspersed with accounts of the ways in which huge corporations in the US have a stranglehold on food production and are allowed to get away with truly unethical behaviour, leaving a trail of human and animal misery in their wake. Kingsolver's concern for the environment and her plain-speaking led to her being listed as number 74 in a book listing one hundred people who are destroying America. Hard to credit.

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