The book immediately resonates with me because it starts out in Tucson, Arizona as Kingsolver and her family leave their home of 25 years to live permanently in Virginia on their summer farm. I remember well the postcard perfect saguaro cacti and gorgeous desert sunsets. One person’s dream is another person’s normal. I remember well everything she describes. I lived for over 25 years in Phoenix and visited Tucson often. The desert is amazingly beautiful but it lacks something very important though….local food. Although remember my post about eating cactus… you can you know. ;)
Not only is it hard to grow food in an arid desert, Arizona is using borrowed water piped in from the Colorado River and Mexico. The whole set up is not sustainable at all. So Kingsolver decided to re-enter the food chain and move somewhere green where the land could sustain her family.
It was important that her family know the basic things that our ancestors knew that in today’s age we have lost touch with. When do various fruits and veggies come into season? When can the last frost be expected? Which grains are autumn planted? How many people don’t have the foggiest idea what the answers are to these questions. Do we even consider it important? We have lost our connection to our food and this book is about the Kingsolver family’s attempt to find the answers and reconnect with their food. They would do this by growing as much of their food as they could and sourcing the rest locally.
The Kingsolver family settles into a farm and they begin their adventure of eating only what they and their neighbors have grown or raised. Each family member had one luxury item that they could keep buying, like coffee and smaller things will small eco impact like spices were allowed. They planted a large vegetable garden, the youngest daughter raised chickens for eggs and meat, and they raised turkeys. Close relationships with farmers nearby formed so that they could purchase from them what they could not grow or raise themselves. Immediately they began to see just how spoiled people have become when they do not have to consider where their food came from and at what cost. Honestly how many of us actually think about where our meals came from and how? Green people are becoming acutelyy aware of this but by and large not many people are.
Most people might never know what wild asparagus looks like, how to make cheese, or how to find a moral mushroom. They don’t know this because it isn’t necessary for survival anymore. And here I am saying ”they” when in fact I do not know what wild asparagus looks like, how to make cheese, or how to find a moral mushroom. ;) But the Kingsolver family was determined to reconnect with their food in an intimate way and never again be so detached from the process. Their adventures are delightful to read from the first picking of asparagus in spring, to making cheese, to organizing a birthday party for over a hundred people using only produce from local farms.
Barbara Kingsolver writes much of the book but her partner Steve also contributes essays and her daughter Camille details some delicious recipes the family ate while on their journey. It is a wonderful book for those who want to see what it looks like to live on local food.
Available via Amazon.com
Wednesday, August 20th, 2008