Book Review: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I finished reading the book ‘Animal, Vegetable, Miracle’ a few days ago, one of things which inspired me to increase our garden from five 4’x4′ vegetable garden beds to eight.   The three new beds are fully above-ground with a plywood base sitting on part of the gravel where I had been parking my car.  There is room for two more beds, but then I wouldn’t even be able to park my car there in a pinch.  I’m excited, as I planted garlic and shallots today, which will establish their root system over the winter, and develop a proper planty part in the spring.

As for the book, it is essentially 4 books in one, and I had a different attitude about each element of the book. 

  1. On one extreme, the book includes significant “preachy” content about the (completely genuine) horrors that CAFO’s make our meat, and the legitimate concerns about a society which values everything ripe at all times, no matter the fuel required to enjoy asparagus in December.  This is important info, but I don’t enjoy the constant reminders.
  2. Another element is a genuine narrative about their lives.  I did not find this especially interesting, but it did tie the story together.
  3. The most compelling part for me is the detailed recount of the actual process required to grow your own food for a year, or source it from your community.  I enjoyed learning about their experiences raising (and processing) chickens and turkeys, learning to make mozzarella, finding suprising spring foods at the farmers market and the details of a large near-sustinance farming experiment.
  4. There were also excerpts from her daughter, whichprovided short stories from an alternate perspective, followed by some recipes that follow the seasons appropriately.  I made some dried tomatoes following one of the recipes, and will try to make a sundried tomato pesto sometime after fresh tomatoes are no longer outside and at the farmers market.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, but enjoy more the rejuvenated entusiasm in my own garden.

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1 Response

  1. Thanks for the review, Tom. It's a shame that the characters had such dreary lives that making mozzarella eclipsed them. I've always hoped that my tombstone won't say, "She was pretty interesting, but not as interesting as making mozzarella."

    Then again, maybe I should make some mozzarella. I could be selling it short.

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