AVM is Wonderful. In the original sense of the word. Written by Barbara Kingsolver with intriguing sidebars inserted here and there by her husband Steven Hopp and daughter Camille Kingsolver, this book is a humorful, beautiful and thought-provoking look at the business of eating locally (like, from your own backyard).
There have been many reviews detailing the premise of this work of non-fiction, so let me just point out some parts of the book that were most meaningful to me.
The book begins kind of a la Michael Moore, as I like to describe it. This didn't turn me off as much as, I'm sorry to say, I found my eyes glazing over one or two times. As background and context for their year, this section is essential but it was really the narrative of their actual journal I found to be most magical.
This book truly made me want to try my hand at growing asparagus with Kingsolver's fascinating description of this plant that is only for the patient. It also made me want to explore the use of heirloom seeds - even the seeds are beautiful, nevermind what they produce.
Kingsolver's calm description of her rather complicated concept of the Vegetannual. A wonderful glimpse as to when fruits and vegetables are truly in season and why.
One of the most beautiful passages was related to preparations for her 50th birthday party where locally grown was taken to a new art:
I stood for a minute clutching my carrots, looking out over our pasture to Walker Mountain on the horizon. The view from our garden is spectacular. I thought about about people I knew who right at that moment might be plucking chickens, picking strawberries, and lettuce, just for us. I felt grateful to the people involved, and the animals also.Better in context, of course.
One thing I will note, is that the Kingsolver's certainly have a lot of "appliances". They have a food dehydrator, chest freezer, bread machine, pasta maker, and food processor. Not that I'm knocking these wonders of the modern world...I'm just sayin'.
So many other anecdotes about the year that were interesting and funny and moving, yes, moving were related to poultry. The passages about Ms. Kingsolver's daughter Lilly and her thriving egg business are highlights of the book. And who knew that turkeys rarely ever have sex in this country any more! The Kingsolvers are quick to point out that they are by no means goodie-two-shoes. They have a stack of Mac-n-Cheese (Kraft or Annie's?) and they would never, ever, ever consider going a year without coffee.
And perhaps the most underrated contribution to this book: the simple line illustrations by Richard Houser. He's not even mentioned on the cover! They are little gems.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a wonderful book full of surprises (Try the wonderful surprise at the end of "Slow Food Nations") like the growing season itself.