Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

I had really high hopes for this book, and the premise is interesting, but it turned out to be only so-so. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is Barbara Kingsolver's account of the year where she and her family tried to eat only what they raised or was grown locally (with a few exceptions).

The premise is interesting and I enjoyed reading some of her accounts, and of course I agree that we should eat seasonal (something that I learnt after coming to Japan - I appreciate the fact that even the big chain supermarkets have corners that are dedicated to local produce), but the book was off-puttingly preachy at times. I probably managed to miss the worst of it by reading only a couple of chapters at the time, but the introductory chapters and "you can't run away on harvest day" were really preachy.

(By the way, I don't know if it helps but I skipped over her husband's columns after one chapter. I persisted with her daughter's columns for a while more but eventually gave up too, since it's basically what her mother says.)

Oh yeah, and the book is basically "we should all eat local and it's totally possible and great for the earth" but doesn't really consider that this is possible only in countries like America. In Singapore, for instance, only 10% of the food consumed is produced locally. An experiment like Kingsolver's is going to be very hard, if not impossible. I even went to Google farmers markets in Singapore and it seems like for at least two, quite a lot of their stuff is imported too - unlike the farmers markets that are so highly praised in the book. A few seem to have more local stuff but they aren't held very often.

Plus, if I'm not wrong, there are studies that say that eating green would be more helpful than eating local - though I'm not too sure and I will not be giving up meat any time soon so I guess I should be choosing the less harmful of the two options.

In short, while I agree that we should try to eat seasonal and local when possible (because it is more delicious - not sure about whether it's cheaper, since Japanese mangoes and grapes are more expensive than the imported ones!), the book is incredibly preachy which makes it hard to read at times.

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