When Kingsolver and her family move from suburban Arizona to rural Appalachia, they take on a new challenge: to spend a year on a locally produced diet, paying close attention to the provenance of all they consume. "Our highest shopping goal was to get our food from so close to home, we'd know the person who grew it. Often that turned out to be ourselves as we learned to produce what we needed, starting with dirt, seeds, and enough knowledge to muddle through. Or starting with baby animals, and enough sense to refrain from naming them." Animal, Vegetable, Miracle follows the family through the first year of their experiment. They find themselves eager to move away from the typical food scenario of American families: a refrigerator packed with processed, factory-farmed foods transported long distances using nonrenewable fuels. In their search for another way to eat and live, they begin to recover what Kingsolver considers our nation's lost appreciation for farms and the natural processes of food production. American citizens spend less of their income on food than has any culture in the history of the world, but pay dearly in other ways -- losing the flavors, diversity and creative food cultures of earlier times. The environmental costs are also high, and the nutritional sacrifice is undeniable: on our modern industrial food supply, Americans are now raising the first generation of children to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. Believing that most of us have better options available, Kingsolver and her family set out to prove for themselves that a local diet is not just better for the economy and environment but also better on the table. Their search leads them through a season of planting, pulling weeds, expanding their kitchen skills, harvesting their own animals, joining the effort to save heritage crops from extinction, and learning the time-honored rural art of getting rid of zucchini. Inspired by the flavors and culinary arts of a local food culture, they explore farmers' markets and diversified organic farms at home and across the country, discovering a booming movement with devotees from the Deep South to Alaska. Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, and complete with original recipes, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle makes a passionate case for putting the kitchen back at the center of family life, and diversified farms at the center of the American diet.
Barbara Kingsolver was born on April 8, 1955 in Annapolis, Maryland and grew up in Eastern Kentucky. As a child, Kingsolver used to beg her mother to tell her bedtime stories. She soon started to write stories and essays of her own, and at the age of nine, she began to keep a journal. After graduating with a degree in biology form De Pauw University in Indiana in 1977, Kingsolver pursued graduate studies in biology and ecology at the University of Arizona in Tucson. She earned her Master of Science degree in the early 1980s. A position as a science writer for the University of Arizona soon led Kingsolver into feature writing for journals and newspapers. Her articles have appeared in a number of publications, including The Nation, The New York Times, and Smithsonian magazines. In 1985, she married a chemist, becoming pregnant the following year. During her pregnancy, Kingsolver suffered from insomnia. To ease her boredom when she couldn't sleep, she began writing fiction. Barbara Kingsolver's first fiction novel, The Bean Trees, published in 1988, is about a young woman who leaves rural Kentucky and finds herself living in urban Tucson. Since then, Kingsolver has written other novels, including Holding the Line, Homeland, and Pigs in Heaven. In 1995, after the publication of her essay collection High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now or Never, Kingsolver was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from her alma mater, De Pauw University. Her latest works include The Lacuna and Flight Behavior. Barbara's nonfiction book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was written with her family. This is the true story of the family's adventures as they move to a farm in rural Virginia and vow to eat locally for one year. They grow their own vegetables, raise their own poultry and buy the rest of their food directly from farmers markets and other local sources. (Bowker Author Biography)