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This is the story of a family who decides to leave city life to move to their 100 acre property in the country where they will live off the land and eat locally in order to do their part to save fossil fuels and the planet. Sounds like a lovely fantasy. If only an ancestor of mine had left me a farm I’d be all set but I'm not bitter.
My first obstacle however for achieving this wouldn’t be the lack of a farm but talking my preteen/teenage kids into the endeavor. Did I mention the kids in this book are teen and preteen age? I’d love to know how the Kingsolver’s talked them into this without endless whining, ranting, pouting and crying. How did they pull these kids away from everything familiar, especially their friends for an entire freaking year and get them to cooperate? I need that secret ritual spell or those mood altering pills that they surely must have stashed in the kids last Twinkie. My kids freak at the mere whisper of moving, never mind giving up Reese's cups. If you have little kiddies and dream of doing something like this don’t wait. Trust me on this one. Once they make friends it is over. Maybe Kingsolver’s kids didn’t have friends because I honestly don’t know any kids their age that wouldn’t put up even a minor stink about switching schools. But maybe all of the kids I know are just brats.
I listened to the audiobook of which the bulk of the story is read by Barbara Kingsolver, with her husband butting in at the end of the chapter with helpful tidbits of information for further research and her daughter adding bits about meal plans and recipes. She also adds a few short snippets about her experiences with this project and about her life growing up on a farm and in the kitchen. She sounds like a great helpful kid and an atypical teen. The Kingsolver's seem like very lucky people.
I found this entire book extremely interesting. I already know about GMO’s and big agri-business and the mess of our food system so I didn’t learn a whole heck of a lot new here. Kingsolver also doesn’t go into the minutia of starting up a farm which is more of what I was expecting (and hoping to glean) from this book. From the gist of things I believe she grew up on or around a farm/garden her entire life and already knew how to do everything. Instead she focuses more on how they made do with only foods grown locally; on their farm or those nearby. I think she went a tad overboard when she went on about her views about tobacco farms and began to equate the “harvesting” of her animals to the “beheading” of a lettuce but overall I didn’t find her preachy or as obnoxious as some have mentioned. I’ll never be able to do as they did and buy 100% organic and local however. Despite what she claims, it is much more expensive and time consuming and requires a whole lot of advance planning and trips to various markets. I've done the research in my area and the numbers don't work out in my favor. So I will do what I can until I win the lottery and it will have to be good enough for now.
Though it sounds like a huge amount of work their journey is enviable. It has inspired me to spend more time working in the dirt and to put our compost to good use rather than using it to enrich flower beds. I planted garlic in the fall and am going to baby it instead of ignore it and hope for the best as tends to be my habit. My bigger goal is find a spot and dig a trench for an asparagus bed. I hadn’t realized they reward you for years with just a TLC. That’s my kind of veggie. More importantly this book made me think differently about the hours I spend slaving away at the stove and made me look at the work as less of a chore and more of an act of love for my family and for myself. Sometimes when I’m exhausted I need a nudge to keep me going and this book did the trick. I’ll probably keep this on my Ipod for inspiration when I’m feeling lazy or overwhelmed.