Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Book Summary - Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Book explained in key points

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle summary

Barbara Kingsolver, with Steven L. Hopp, and Camille Kingsolver

Our Year of Seasonal Eating

3.3 (14 ratings)
10 mins

Brief summary

'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle' by Barbara Kingsolver, with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver, is a memoir that explores the author's family's year-long experiment of living solely on locally grown foods in rural Appalachia and its impact on their health and the environment.

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    Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
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    The food industry has made people forget all about real food.

    Living in the city for so long has removed us from the process of food creation. Foods now have bizarre, made-up names; foodstuff is imported and exported all over the world. For the most part, we’ve entirely forgotten about local farmers.

    It’s true that most people today want products from local, organic farmers. Nonetheless, they tend to purchase those products from giant food corporations.

    These corporations use synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and genetically modify their products in order to produce them cheaply – a far cry from the local, organic food people crave.

    Most people are fully aware that most animals destined for consumption endure horrific conditions before being slaughtered. But as long as prices stay low, people will buy from giant corporations instead of their local farmers’ market.

    People even complain about the high prices of organic meats and vegetables. But prices are high for a reason: farmers personally tended to those vegetables and took great care of those animals.

    Moreover, the calories we consume today come in forms that are hardly recognizable when compared to real food.

    After World War II the US government relied on chemical fertilizers to guarantee a cheap, steady supply of corn and soybeans in order to produce high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils, and to feed cattle and poultry.

    But that production never slowed down. Today, American farmers still produce 3,900 calories per citizen per day. People are consuming way more calories than they require, often without knowing it.

    Finally, genetically modified (GM) plants are almost ubiquitous in the US food supply chain, and are often difficult to avoid.

    Genetically modified food does not have to be labelled as such, meaning that, even if you don’t want to eat GM foods, the food industry has nonetheless figured out how to get them into your body.

    In fact, the people running the industrial farms have strategy meetings to discuss new ways of getting you to consume all these surplus calories, resulting in widespread obesity.

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    What is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle about?

    Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (2007) offers insights gained during the authors' year-long sojourn in the countryside. They lived only on seasonal and local food, and their experiment reveals the right time to eat each vegetable and the importance of investing in the local food made by local farmers.

    Best quote from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

    Conventional methods are definitely producing huge quantities of corn, wheat, and soybeans, but not to feed the poor [...].

    —Barbara Kingsolver, with Steven L. Hopp, and Camille Kingsolver
    example alt text

    Who should read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle?

    • Farmers who want to deepen their understanding of seasonal eating
    • People who want to learn about the importance of cooking
    • Anyone with food-related health problems

    About the Author

    Barbara Kingsolver is a novelist, essayist and poet. Her other works include The Bean Trees, The Poisonwood Bible and The Lacuna, which won the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction.

    Steven L. Hopp is a teacher at Emory and Henry College, specializing in Environmental Studies.

    Camille Kingsolver, a graduate of Duke University, is an advocate for local food. She currently works in the mental-health field.

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