Currently reading Barbara Kingsolver’s brilliant new book, ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE. A series of quick excerpts from the first chapter to whet your appetite and inspire:
A profit-driven food industry has exploded and nutritionally bankrupted our caloric supply, and we long for a Food Leviticus to save us from the sinful roil of cheap fats and carbs.
A food culture is not something that gets sold to people. It arises out of a place, a soil, a climate, a history, a temperament, a collective sense of belonging … Our most celebrated models of beauty are starved people.
People hold to their food customs because of the positives: comfort, nourishment, heavenly aromas. A sturdy food tradition even calls to outsiders; plenty of red-blooded Americans will happily eat Italian, French, Thai, Chinese, you name it.
We’re a nation with an eating disorder, and we know it. The multiple maladies caused by bad eating are taking a dire toll on our health–most tragically for our kids, who are predicted to be this country’s first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. That alone is a stunning enough fact to give us pause. So is a government policy that advises us to eat more fruits and vegetables, while doling out subsidies not to fruit and vegetable farmers, but to commodity crops destined to become soda pop and cheap burgers.
At its heart, a genuine food culture is an affinity between people and the land that feeds them. … This book tells the story of what we learned, or didn’t; what we ate, or couldn’t; and how our family was changed by one year of deliberately eating food produced in the same place where we worked, loved our neighbors, drank the water, and breathed the air. It’s not at all necessary to live on a food-producing farm to participate in this culture.
Doing the right thing, in this case, is not about abstinence-only, throwing out bread, tightening your belt, wearing a fake leather belt, or dragging around feeling righteous and gloomy. Food is the rare moral arena in which the ethical choice is generally the one more likely to make you groan with pleasure. Why resist that?
–from ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE by Barbara Kingsolver
Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She serves on the executive board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and is co-editing with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edited the anthology Bettering American Poetry 2015 and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.