Monday, May 5, 2008

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Over the past several months, I have enjoyed reading books that are about food: food that I eat and food that people in other countries eat. Food and nutrition are vital things in our lives and yet we take them so much for granted. I want to be more aware of not only how the food is made that I eat, but where it comes from and what does to me.

Previously, I wrote about a book called the Hungry Planet that was a book of photo essays and written essays about what people around the world consume for nutrition. That book changed how I approached grocery shopping and also made me much more appreciative for the amount of food available to me.

Now, I am reading a book called "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver. Kingsolver and her husband and two daughters move from Arizona, where the food and water are shipped in, to a farm on the Appalachian Mountains so the family can raise most of its own food.

I just began this book, but I have already begun to learn so much about the state of the American diet and how modified all our foods are. It's amazing how the food we consider to be healthy like vegetables have been manipulated to resist diseases and to look good. In the process, the once-healthy foods have lost a lot of what was good for us.

The book also focuses on the amount of oil and work it takes to get foods to consumers. Living in Wisconsin, I appreciate having access to cucumbers and pears in the middle of the winter, but it's clear that it took a lot of resources to get that food to me. Is this what we should be doing?

As I read more, I will write more. I am just starting to sort out a lot of the ideas that Kingsolver introduces in her book.

I am already planning to grow some tomato and pepper plants on my apartment building roof this summer and to shop as much as possible at farmers' markets over the summer. I am so excited that the Waukesha farmer's market starts Saturday. I know that I won't be able to buy much yet, but I am hoping for some fresh flowers.

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