I'm almost finished with "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle," and even though I've found it gorgeous, inspiring, fun, and beautifully written, I am fending off a mild frustration I wonder if any of you share. As the year Barbara Kingsolver spent as a committed locovore winds on and on, I keep waiting for a moment of crisis, a night when her teenage daughter wanted Chinese food (or even an orange), or a time when Kingsolver found herself unable to resist the call of the M&Ms. But none has come.
I'm not waiting for her to fail, mind you. Quite the opposite. But I would have wanted to see how she came through such tense moments, or if/how she forgave herself for any occasional lapses. A year is a long time, after all, and she started the book saying that it was an experiment. Experiments tend to have moments where they teeter on the brink. Hers seems to roll deliciously along, without even a garden disaster in the mix (am I the only one who's experienced sudden zucchini-killing powdery mildew rot?). Even when they're on a road trip, resigned to a lousy, processed lunch, they happen to stumble into a charming, local-food-diner haven!
Perhaps the book is a fable, a utopian extreme against which we can measure ourselves, the moral of which is, "we are what we eat, so if we choose wisely, the world can be a beautiful place." And I'm happy to digest the book in just those terms, holding it out as a Xanadu-like paradise of big, productive gardens, willing family partners, and a big basement full of canned and frozen produce.
Granted, Kingsolver lives in a farm-friendly community in a temperate climate. But for me here in New England, gardening, eating, and living are much messier than that, so Kingsolver's world seems like Eden, an ideal to keep working toward, even if it might never be what I see when I look outside my window.
I'm really looking forward to the end of the book - I have a feeling Kingsolver will skillfully bring it all home. Meantime, did anyone else feel any of this when reading A, V, M?