I finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and family about a week ago and I feel like this is a book that everyone should read! It was really well written and not preachy at all (environmentalism can sometimes border on being very preachy). The book chronicles Barbara’s year long journey of eating food mainly produced by the land that her and her family live on. It pretty neat because her older daughter and husband take part in the book, writing pieces that set off the story that Barbara is telling. It also serves as an educator about where our food comes from, how it gets there and the process that happens from farm to grocery store. In a lot of ways it is similar to In Defense of Food but written conversationally, so that it’s not just about the facts, but about the way of life involved with eating locally. I especially loved the way that their quest united their family through food. This is something that I’ve always felt about food – that it draws people together.
I thought I would share some of the quotes that most impacted me when I was reading the book. I’d love to hear what you guys think about all of this!
“The main barrier standing between ourselves and a local-food culture is not price, but attitude. The most difficult requirements are patience and a pinch of restraint – virtues that are hardly the property of the wealthy. . . Furthermore we apply them selectively: browbeating our teenagers with the message that they should wait for sex, for example. Only if they wait to experience intercourse under the ideal circumstances, will they know its true value. “Blah blah blah,” hears the teenager: words issuing from a mouth that can’t even wait for the right time to eat tomatoes, but instead consumes tasteless ones all winter to satisfy a craving for everything now. We’re raising our children on the definition of promiscuity if we feed them a casual, indiscriminate mingling of foods from every season plucked from the supermarket, ignoring how our sustenance is cheapened by wholesale desires. Waiting for the quality experience seems to be the constitutional article that has slipped from the American food custom.”
I know we’re a culture of NOW and MINE, but ouch, this quote hurt! It really struck me that we try to impart values of patience and virtue in our children, yet there are so many areas in our lives (food being singled out in this instance) where we set the standards for our children that we are impatient. Waiting for the quality experience has not only slipped out of our food custom but just American custom in general. People don’t practice or applaud patience/self-control any longer, more often than not, they’re shocked by it! I feel like I encounter this when tell people that I cook dinner most nights a week, or that Jason and I waited until we were married to have sex. “Why?!” is the most common reaction I get to that statement and I think part of that shock may be because waiting for the quality experience is not a value of our culture any longer!
“We have the illusion of consumer freedom, but we’ve sacrificed our community life for the pleasure of purchasing lots of cheap stuff. Making and moving all that stuff can be so destructive: child labor in foreign lands, acid rain in the Northeast, depleted farmland, communities where the big economic engine is crystal meth. We often have the form of liberty but not the substance.”
The form of liberty but not the substance. So often we feel ‘free’ because we have infinite choices in front of us but we’re blind to the true consequence of our actions. Oftentimes our freedom is at the cost of other people’s basic human rights. Most people choose to be blissfully unaware that their actions really do negatively affect another human being because it’s an uncomfortable truth that what you do could be helping keep a child in slavery, or fueling a market for goods that is tied to a drug industry. Eating locally is one small facet of this whole idea but it’s there nonetheless. Do you think about where your food comes from and at what cost?
“It’s my observation that when Italian genes are present, all others duck and cover. . . . After arrival on the ancestral soil [Italy, on vacation] I figured out pretty quickly why that heritage swamps all competition. It’s a culture that sweeps you in, sits you down in the kitchen, and feeds you so well you really don’t want to leave.”
Now coming from an Italian background, this quote tickles me on a couple of levels. First, I was lucky enough to grow up in a family that valued slow food – sitting at the dinner table and talking about our days and things going on in our life over dinner. I really did grow up with a family that sits you down in the kitchen and feeds you so well that you don’t want to leave! You can ask any of my friends – they’ve all been fed by my mom! I also think it’s funny because our genes tend to swamp all others in the genetic pool too! If you look at my family, you can tell that we’re all related. I’m pretty sure that Jude is going to be born with a full head of dark hair, just like I was and the majority of my family.