3,900 calories per American per day—double our need.
The food industry successfully markets these calories, about 1/3 of which
come from junk food. Pushing junk food to children is a $10 billion a
Equally bleak are transportation statistics. Producing and delivering
food for the average American takes 400 gallons of fuel a year. Agriculture
alone consumes 17% of the nation’s energy.
Author Barbara Kingsolver wants
to start a revolution in the way Americans think about, grow, and consume
food. It’s called the Local Food Movement. How we eat determines
how the world is used, and she has faith that we can make better choices.
For a year, Kingsolver and her family attempted to eat organic, unprocessed
food grown locally. She recorded their efforts in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,
part memoir, part essay. Like The Poisonwood Bible and her other writing,
it is a delight.
Kingsolver writes of the joys of rare heirloom vegetables. She disdains
genetically modified crops, bred for appearance, packaging, and transportation,
to the sacrifice of flavor and nutrition.
At one time, Peru grew 4,000 potato varieties, including purple, red,
orange, yellow, and white. Only about a dozen varieties remain. Wheat,
corn, rice and other grains have also lost diversity. Today 76% of human
food comes from only eight species. 70% of Midwest farms now produce only
two crops: corn and soy. Six companies control 98% of global seed sales.
Food is becoming endangered.
Did you ever wonder why California avocados cost less here than Florida
avocados do? It’s because current global agriculture benefits Big
Agra: the processors, brokers, shippers, supermarkets and oil companies.
Thanks to tax deductions, Big Agra writes off transportation costs, leaving
taxpayers to foot the bill. We pay to transport those California avocados,
and small Florida farmers and the Florida economy suffer.
In contrast to Big Agra, small farms are environmentally responsible,
sustainable, diverse, connected to the community, and more profitable.
This greatly benefits our communities and nation. Unfortunately, we have
lost 300 small farms a week in the past decade.
Pests consumed 7% of the crop in 1948 and, despite increased pesticide
use, 13% in 2000. Pesticides are ineffective and are detrimental to soil,
produce, and people. Organic farming, which Kingsolver supports, uses
only natural pest control that enhances the soil, produce, and people.
Additionally, organic produce contains 50-60% more antioxidants than conventional
Eating then becomes a civil liberties issue. It makes good civic sense
for farmers to feed locally. The French call local food “edible
To summarize, the elements of responsible eating include:
1) eat food grown responsibly
2) use minimal limited resources such as oil
3) don’t exploit farmers, including Third World farmers.
||Did Kingsolver succeed in her mission?
Yes, she proved it was possible to eat locally, and no family member went
hungry or lost weight. Her nine-year-old even gained 12 pounds and 5 inches.
The average meal cost only $.50 per person, but that did include what would
be extraordinary measures for most: raising and butchering their own chickens
and turkeys, grinding their own flour to bake their bread, and bartering
Kingsolver concedes that not everyone has the luck to live on a farm in
rural Appalachia. Nonetheless, she encourages everyone to participate in
this revolution, providing small steps and creative recipe ideas at AnimalVegetableMiracle.com.
This book was wonderful: funny, readable, and informative. It contains more
sex than most books I read, although most was, disappointingly, confined
to farm animals and plants. I laughed aloud in places, and, I must admit,
cried at the end. The chapter on turkey sex was a treat, and the anecdote
about President and Mrs. Coolidge’s actual visit to a turkey farm
was worth the $26.95 book price. My Christmas shopping is complete: everyone
on my list will receive a copy of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.
Kingsolver aims to foment revolution and halt the conspicuous consumption
of Earth’s limited resources. She maintains that our food choices
are politically charged, affecting rural culture, international oil cartels,
and global climate change. To save the planet, we need agricultural diversity.
Continuing to farm and eat as we do is running up a debt for our grandchildren
in extinction, economic problems, and global climate change. She has convinced