Thursday, November 18, 2010

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle... a review

At home in Belgium, (I'm currently in Istanbul doing a lot of reading) I have been going back and forth on whether or not I should plant a vegetable garden for the two summers that we will be at that house. So back and forth in fact that there is only a small patch dug in my back yard, half of which was dug by my father when he was visiting in September.

However, all of these feelings have changed now, and I have officially decided that I will be planting a vegetable garden. The reason for this has to do with a great book that I have just finished reading.

I'll start by stating that I am a big Barbara Kingsolver fan, and this book of hers is actually quite different then her other books (being that it is not fiction). Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is the story of her family's year living locally.

The book follows the family for one year as they live off of the things that they grow in their garden (fruit, vegetables and poultry), make in their kitchen (breads and cheeses) and buy locally (meats, flour). It also has lovely recipes that the family uses, and very helpful and interesting information about the impact you can make by eating locally and organically.

For years I have been able to eat seasonally quite easily. Living in Turkey, you can often only get certain fruits and vegetables at their appropriate times of the years, I know how it feels to eat the first fresh strawberry or cherry, and to eat as many as possible because before you know it they are gone, not to be seen again for a year. Also, I knew that our meat didn't come from very far, especially when we were in Seyfi's family village, and the meat had once been a part of a family members farm.

I'm finding that while living in Belgium, eating locally is also quite easy, we always do our vegetable shopping at the farmer's market, often buying directly from the farmer him/herself, and the meat I buy always has a Belgian flag on it, and after driving all over Belgium, I know that it isn't that big. And, even though there is a much wider variety of processed foods here than there were in Turkey, after all the years of making EVERYTHING from scratch because I couldn't find it there, I now know that I can live without it.

Now, I'm not saying that I am going to do the same thing as this book suggests, but I can definitely see the value in it, and feel that if I step up what I am doing a little bit more, that I might be pretty close.

I do recommend this book to anyone who hasn't read/seen anything about what food in North America is really all about, it is a real eye opener (although so is watching the documentary Food Inc.). It is a great motivation to pay more attention not only to what you are eating, but to the whole process behind the food that you are eating.

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