Animal, Vegetale, Debacle
(or How Barbara Kingsolver Kicked My Ass)
Over the summer I read Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Kingsolver brings to the pages her skills as an accomplished novelist, creating a rather charming tale of her family’s one-year project: to eat only locally grown, sustainably farmed, seasonal, and organic foods. Most of what the family eats is grown on their own farm in rural Virginia, and what they do not raise themselves, they buy only from local farmers. They become “locavores” primarily to reduce their carbon footprint, to answer the growing nutritional crisis in our country, and to support their local economy. In so doing they discover rich flavors, valuable nutrients, true friendships, family ties, and wholesome fun.
As the author provides a seasonal accounting of her family’s project, it is flavored with engaging stories of turkey mating, her nine-year-old daughter’s efforts at her egg business, and descriptions of home-made bread, cheese, sausage, and other assorted delectables that one can practically taste. In addition to baking the family’s daily bread, Kingsolver’s husband, Steven L. Hopp, adds to the book sidebars chock full of facts, figures, and statistics, revealing how agribusiness puts money mostly in the pockets of the shipping industry, robs our food of its nutritional value, and increases our dependence on fossil fuels. Hopp writes, “Food transport has become a bizarre and profitable economic equation that’s no longer really about feeding anyone: in our own nation we export 1.1 million tons of potatoes, while we also import 1.4 million tons.” The author’s eldest daughter, Camille, adds some delightful essays as she observes the effect her family’s project has on her young conscience, and she shares some excellent recipes.
With thoughts of socially and environmentally conscious living lodged in my brain, coupled with my advancing age and accompanying thoughts that I ought to start focusing on what’s important in life before I die, I started thinking about lifestyle changes. I have grown weary of late with the fast-paced, traffic-jammed, dog-eat-dog, competitive, conspicuous-consumption, way of life in which I am immersed and nobody around me seems to question, at least not much. So when my friend Gary posted some pictures of the farm that his parents have talked about selling, the wheels of my imagination began to turn.
I posted about wanting to buy that farm. Go take a look. It’s a quick read, and pictures of the farm are included.
So, if you read my “People, I Just Want to Buy the Farm” post linked above, you will know that my sweet and well-intended thoughts of living a simple life made everyone start mocking me. Seriously. I was mocked. How was I supposed to know what a tractor really does? And now that I know that it does many things, including pulling a tiller, can someone please tell me what a tiller does? And aside from my big straw hat bumping up against the sunroof and my butt crack not being visible, come someone tell me why my Volvo XC90 won’t pull a tiller just as well as any tractor? Whatever a tiller is.
Anyway, since buying a farm in upstate New York was not on the immediate horizon, my husband’s common and economic sense being a major impediment to many of my best ideas, I decided that our family could experience local farming at someone else’s local farm. Julian, California is famous for its apple pie, and every fall, folks can come and pick apples at one of the many orchards in the community. Tom and I loaded Laura and her friend, Lauren, into the Volvo one Sunday morning in October, and off we headed to pick apples at an organic orchard that I found on Google. So began our debacle.
Laura and Lauren
enjoying a simple life.
thus fulfilling the “animal” portion
of our Animal, Vegetable, Debacle experience.
or apples, or anything that
fits in his hands in numbers of three . . .
(Good thing the Lord gave me just two breasts.)
Time spent in Volvo: 6 hours.
Time spent picking apples: 45 minutes.
Cost of fuel: $95.00
Cost of one bag of self-pick apples: $25.00
Bottom line: Debacle
Readers, do you have any
debacles experiences trying to reduce your carbon footprint to share?