The Kitchen Reader: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Animalvegetablemiracle This month's Kitchen Reader book--chosen by Karen of Shortbread South--is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. 

The plot was not terribly new for me at this point--urban family moves the the country and eats local for a year--but I liked this book the most of any I've read in this genre, because the author is very practical about it.  

A lot of the time authors turn eating locally into an endurance contest.  (In Plenty, for example, the authors picked mouse poop out of their locally sourced wheat so they could make bread--ewww!)  In much the way I admire people who run marathons, but would never actually want to run a marathon myself; I admire that sort of dedication to eating locally, but it's not for me.

Throughout this book, Kingsolver's family eats locally where they can, takes the time to consider whether they really need things that can't be gotten locally, and then buys sustainably where they must.  This strikes me as being much more realistic for the average person.

But the most fascinating part of this book is the turkeys!

According to Kingsolver, almost all modern, domesticated turkeys are hatched in incubators.  Like chickens, they're raised until a given point where (meat) weight vs. food consumption makes economic sense, and then they're slaughtered--usually before they're even a year old.  

In one chapter of the book, Kingsolver decides to see if she can make her domestic turkeys self-perpetuating--in other words, could her turkeys hatch and raise their own young?  While the underlying concerns are serious (we've screwed with Mother Nature so much that these birds can't even reproduce without human interference), the story of how one turkey eventually figures it all out is hilarious.

All in all, a very good read!