Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Challenge to Become a Locavore

I just finished Barbara Kingsolver's latest book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. As I mentioned in an earlier post, it is a book about the year that she and her family (husband, 2 daughters) decided to eat locally. They consciously and carefully tried to make their entire menu out of food produced as close as possible to their home, as well as food produced organically. They grew quite a bit of their food, including eggs, chickens and turkeys, but also relied on area farmers and farmers' markets.

"Why would anyone do that?" I hear people asking. There were several reasons. One was the realization that every calorie they were eating had used many more calories being shipped to them, and in this time of growing environmental concern, that seemed tragically wasteful. Then, too, local food is fresher, tastier, and in buying it you are supporting local farmers rather than soul-less mega-corporations. Eating locally meant becoming more in tune with the natural rhythms around them. And by eating locally and getting to know the local producers, they not only developed a stronger sense of community, but they helped keep that community (and themselves) healthier by supporting organic agriculture.

It's an interesting book, a true family affair. Kingsolver writes the bulk of the story and her narrative voice is casual and fun, but knowledgeable. Her 19 year old daughter Camille writes occasional sections primarily focused around specific recipes and meal plans for taking advantage of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Her husband, a biology professor, writes sidebars that provide more specific scientific information.

While I'm not courageous enough to jump headfirst into a year's contract to eat locally, I've been slowly trying to work more local foods into our diet. We've been eating local eggs (wonderful! with bright orange yellow substantial yolks), hamburger (no hormones or antibiotics - very tasty, but we're still looking for straight pasture fed beef), bread (very good), cinnamon rolls (fantastic, but I'm not sure the ingredients are local for either the bread or the cinnamon rolls) and vegetables. Many of these things we found at the local farmers' market in West Wichita. After reading this book, I'm even more dedicated to that changeover, and I'm specifically looking forward to trying some of the recipes Camille presents.

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