Monday, April 7, 2008

BOOK: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I learned of the 100 mile diet when some friends of mine in Bellingham, WA decided to take the plunge and give it a whirl last summer. They posted a blog, shared recipes, and invited my son and I to join them. Here's roughly how it works: Eat local. Eat fresh. Consume things produced only within 100 miles of your home. My home, at that time, was Bellingham, Washington, arguably a fairly easy place to try this in the middle of summer.

It all sounded great in theory until I realized that my Tony's coffee (local Bellingham roaster) didn't make the cut because well, the beans, they don't grow those in Bellingham, WA.
Not one to half ass, I politely declined knowing full well the coffee fix was a necessary evil, that I'd been pining for months for those eastern Washington peaches that would soon be showing up the Farmer's Market, and lest I sound too tree hugger-ish here, my son's penchant for Totino's pizza rolls were a requirement a minimum of once a week around my fractured household.
I also wasn't quite sure that my pocketbook could take the financial strain of the challenge, even with the berries, fruit, and bountiful supply of vegetables and herbs literally dropping to the ground all over my half acre in supplies completely overwhelming for two.

I considered this book a bit my consellation prize. I also happen to believe that Barbara Kingsolver is one of the most talented writers out there when it comes to description of place and landscape. I read everything she writes. I figured, why not ride along on the Kingsolver family journey instead of diving head first into this 100 mile "diet" business. I took a sip of my Tony's coffee, watched my son devour another box of pizza rolls, and turned the page.

True to form, Kingsolver even describes the awkwardness of turkeys mating for the first time with a brilliance, innocence and utter hilariousness that can't help but bring a smile to your face. But we are talking about a woman who could write about a pile of cow dung and make it sound like something that you should heap on your plate for dessert. Reading about all the concoctions she created from her families' harvest was a true delight. I will certainly try some of the recipes next summer when I am back on my own local eating train.

To that end, Kingsolver raised in me a consciousness of just what is at stake if I continue to purchase my pineapple in the middle of an Iowa winter, where we now live. I am finding that somehow, the pineapple doesn't taste quite right any more.

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