Just wanted to toss out a quick enthusiastic plug for Barbara Kingsolver‘s fantastic newest, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. I’m almost constitutionally incapable of recommending a book with “Miracle” in the title but as they say, don’t judge a book by its etc.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

(Image poached from www.animalvegetablemiracle.com.)

Kingsolver’s premise is to see what it takes to live as much as possible on local food for a year (hence the term she coins, locivory). She and her family try to grow the bulk of their own food, even the kinds that cluck or gobble, and to get the rest from neighbors or the farmer’s market. Even her vacations (a local-food-centric road trip and a tour through regions of Italy where the term “locally grown food” seems a bit redundant) are designed to fit the theme.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle reads as part reflective journal, part compelling argument. She manages to avoid sounding strident or superior — no small task. Her daughter Camille chimes in with personal essays, recipes, and meal plans, and her husband Steven Hopp contributes investigative “sidebars” with a more political tone.

I devoured this book because Kingsolver’s quest has always been my half-joking Plan B (for awhile it was even my Plan A): run off to a little chunk of land, start up an organic mini-farm, and live as self-sufficiently and sustainably as possible. I never quite had the know-how or the balls, so the more relevant issue for me (and many others) is, what can I do to go local without going whole-hog? What’s a girl who’s just moved to a concrete jungle to do?

Kingsolver has plenty of suggestions. To me, that’s how this book really succeeds. It communicates how important it is that little farms like hers continue to exist (and how precarious they are, and how we can support them) but its message doesn’t require you to live on one. It’s chock full of practical advice and inspiration such that whatever shade of green you’d like to become, you have a good idea of how to make it happen.