In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver chronicles her family's experiment: they want to see if they can live off the land in a way that connects them to their farm and their community.
Kingsolver is not a vegetarian, although some members of her family experimented with vegetarianism at different points before they embarked on this food journey. I, on the other hand, have been a vegetarian since I was twelve. I thought I might be unsettled or shocked by some of her comments about raising and killing poultry. Instead, the book showed me that animals--when properly raised and harvested--can be an environmentally sound choice. Plus, reading about Kingsolver's youngest daughter's egg enterprise was hilarious: while most kids her age are selling lemonade, this amazing girl came up with a lucrative egg selling scheme.
The book includes family recipes and seasonal meal plans, as well as tips about canning and cheesemaking, but more than anything, Kingsolver's memoir shows how connected we are to our community by the food we eat--if we understand our food's sources and make choices that do not accept the alienation from production so typical of modern society.
For readers familiar with Kingsolver's fiction, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle touches on similar themes (Prodigal Summer could almost be the memoir's fictional sibling, with its deep investment in the interdependency of animals, plants, and people) and gives glimpses into the writer's deep connectedness to the land she describes with such vitality in her novels.