What I've been reading lately

What I’ve been reading lately #2

I’d meant to read this for awhile, and when the audiobook was in at CPL, I grabbed it. And then it grabbed me.

Generally even if I am amused or educated or entranced by a book, it does not compel me to immediate action. This one did. Before finishing it, I’d ordered my own supplies to make cheese, looked up the next winter farmer’s market, and figured out a Community Supported Agriculture program to join for next summer. I’m still excited about it, even now that I’ve finished the book, to the point that my basics ways of thinking have slightly shifted.

“But wait,” you ask, “what is the book about that you are so excited?”

The book chronicles Barbara Kingsolver and her family’s year of trying to eat food that they grew, bought from local farmers, or bought fair trade for things that didn’t grow nearby (like coffee and chocolate). Her husband writes about the scientific and economic aspects doing so, and her oldest daughter contributes sections on nutrition and meal planning.  They acknowledge throughout that they were expert gardeners and had the land and preperation necessary to make the program a success, but give ideas about how even city apartment dwellers can do similar things.

What I took away is that by eating in season and trying to be as local as possible, you are part of a food culture, which is something the modern American diet lacks– we have bits and pieces of everything, and lots of junk, so it’s hard to find wholesome staples. Buying organically grown food isn’t so great if you’re buying it from far away, since it had to be shipped to you and you have no idea what the working conditions were like on the farm. You can eat well locally over the winter too, even in climates such as Chicago, if you think ahead over the summer to put up local vegetables– and in fact, it’s better that you buy out a stall at the farmer’s market, since fresh vegetables can’t really be stored for future sales like grain can.

Since I read this in November, it’s too late to follow most of the advice, but on my last trip to the grocery store I tried to buy only things grown in Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, or Michigan, and to buy vegetables that are in season even if they were grown farther away. Lots of roots and members of cabbage family, but at least they are all easy to cook.

Anyway, I highly reccomend this book, even if you just like humorous accounts of farm life and turkey sex.

2 replies on “What I’ve been reading lately #2”

Quite excited to read about this book. It sounds like an excellent project for me this winter… to plan for next year, at least. Keep me posted on your goals and successes; for example, I’d like to hear about your cheese-making endeavor.

I realize I’m posting this belatedly and the topic has moved on, but you should research “Angelic Organic” a co-op farm that services the chicago area (they even have a drop-off in south Oak Park). Also check out the film on the founder of Angelic called “The dirt on farmer John” He’s also written numerous insightful tomes on organic farming and culture.

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