A couple nights ago, I had the great pleasure of going to hear a talk by veteran gardener and food writer Barbara Kingsolver (Poisonwood Bible, The Bean Trees, Animal Dreams) at Cooper Union Hall in NYC. She is easily one of my favorite authors, and to hear her read from her new book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life was truly inspiring. Joan Dye Gussow, my beloved professor from Columbia who taught the best class I've EVER taken, "Nutrition Ecology", introduced Kingsolver and vowed that she really is as nice of a person as she seems from reading her books.
Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma could perhaps be a prerequisite to this book, but I think Kingsolver has a more intimate approach to raising awareness about where our food comes from.
After moving to a farmhouse in rural Virginia, Kingsolver and her family vowed to spend an entire year eating nothing but locally grown food, and this book is a recount of that time. They ate only what they grew in their garden or bought at the farmers market. The only meat they ate was livestock they raised or that people in their county raised. They dried, canned and froze enough from their summer crop to last all winter and ate entirely seasonally, the way I believe we were all meant to eat.
The benefits to eating locally are vast. You cut down on gas used to transport food from all over the world which saves natural resources and cuts down on emissions. As used to it as we are, it is not normal to have strawberries and bananas year round. Coffee only comes from the tropics, yet it's so readily available globally. Food transportation is not only hard on the environment, but on the international labor force as well. You may have to pay more for tomatoes at your local farmers market, but this pricing is really not so high, it's just fair. You can not only be sure that those romas are pesticide free, but that the person who grew them for you was not exposed to harsh chemicals and was fairly compensated.
Kingsolver is a great storyteller, and I encourage you all to read this book! I've only just started it, but so far, it's fantastic.