Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

As always, I'm reading too many books at one time but Animal, Vegetable, Miracle A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver arrived from my reserve list at the library and I must take advantage of its availability and read it (its a hot library item). But that shouldn't be hard, this book resonates so strongly with me that I will have a hard time putting it down. Since I don't own it and can't mark it up I started putting sticky tabs on all the pages with especially good stuff but stopped after I tabbed every third paragraph.

I've written a little review in my goodreads but I want to share this passage from the book as a teaser:

Most people of my grandparents' generation had an intuitive sense of agricultural basics: when various fruits and vegetables come into season, which ones keep through the winter, how to preserve the others. On what day autumn's first frost will likely fall on their county, and when to expect the last one in spring. Which crops can be planted before the last frost, and which must wait. Which grains are autumn-planted. What an asparagus patch looks like in August. Most importantly: what animals and vegetables thrive in one's immediate regions and how to live well on those, with little else thrown into the mix beyond a bag of flour, a pinch of salt, and a handful of coffee. Few people of my generation, and approximately none of our children, could answer any of those questions, let alone all. This knowledge has vanished from our culture.


We also have largely convinced ourselves it wasn't too important. Consider how Americans might respond to a proposal that agriculture was to become a mandatory subject in all schools, alongside reading and mathematics. A fair number of parents would get hot under the collar to see their kids' attention being pulled away from the essentials of grammar, the all-important trigonometry, to make room for down-on-the-farm stuff. The baby boom psyche embraces a powerful presumption that education is a key to moving away from manual labor, and dirt - two undeniable ingredients of farming. It's good enough for us that somebody, somewhere, knows food production well enough to serve the rest of us with all we need to eat, each day of our lives.


If that is true, why isn't it good enough for someone else to know multiplication and the contents of the Bill of Rights? Is the story of bread, from tilled ground to our table, less relevant to our lives than the history of the thirteen colonies? Couldn't one make a case for the relevance of a subject that informs choices we make daily-as in, What's for dinner? Isn't ignorance of our food sources causing problems as diverse as overdependence on petroleum, and an epidemic of diet-related diseases?

Oh, this is good stuff and helps validate the importance of our children's own farm education and the lack of teaching some other subjects, like grammar, that our family just doesn't find as important. Enough of my ramblings - borrow the book & read it yourself.

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