This story about good food begins in a quick-stop convenience market. It was our family's last day in Arizona, where I'd lived half my life and raised two kids for the whole of theirs. Now we were moving away forever, taking our nostalgic inventory of the things we would never see again: the bush where the roadrunner built a nest and fed lizards to her weird-looking babies; the tree Camille crashed into learning to ride a bike; the exact spot where Lily touched a dead snake. Our driveway was just the first tributary on a memory river sweeping us out.
One person's picture postcard is someone else's normal. This was the landscape whose every face we knew: giant saguaro cacti, coyotes, mountains, the wicked sun reflecting off bare gravel. We were leaving it now in one of its uglier moments, which made good-bye easier, but also seemed like a cheap shot—like ending a romance right when your partner has really bad bed hair. The desert that day looked like a nasty case of prickly heat caught in a long, naked wince.
This was the end of May. Our rainfall since Thanksgiving had measured less than one inch. The cacti, denizens of deprivation, looked ready to pull up roots and hitch a ride out if they could. The prickly pears waved good-bye with puckered, grayish pads. The tall, dehydrated saguaros stood around all teetery and sucked-in like very prickly supermodels. Even in the best of times desert creatures live on the edge of survival, getting by mostly on vapor and their own life savings. Now, as the southern tier of U.S. states came into a third consecutive year of drought, people elsewhere debated how seriously they should take global warming. We were staring it in the face.
Away went our little family, like rats leaping off the burning ship. It hurt to think about everything at once: our friends, our desert, old home, new home. We felt giddy and tragic as we pulled up at a little gas-and-go market on the outside edge of Tucson. Before we set off to seek our fortunes we had to gas up, of course, and buy snacks for the road. We did have a cooler in the back seat packed with respectable lunch fare. But we had more than two thousand miles to go. Before we crossed a few state lines we'd need to give our car a salt treatment and indulge in some things that go crunch.
This was the trip of our lives. We were ending our existence outside the city limits of Tucson, Arizona, to begin a rural one in southern Appalachia. We'd sold our house and stuffed the car with the most crucial things: birth certificates, books-on-tape, and a dog on drugs. (Just for the trip, I swear.) All other stuff would come in the moving van. For better or worse, we would soon be living on a farm.
For twenty years Steven had owned a piece of land in the southern Appalachians with a farmhouse, barn, orchards and fields, and a tax zoning known as "farm use." He was living there when I met him, teaching college and fixing up his old house one salvaged window at a time. I'd come as a visiting writer, recently divorced, with something of a fixer-upper life. We proceeded to wreck our agendas in the predictable fashion by falling in love. My young daughter and I were attached to our community in Tucson; Steven was just as attached to his own green pastures and the birdsong chorus of deciduous eastern woodlands. My father-in-law to be, upon hearing the exciting news about us, asked Steven, "Couldn't you find one closer?"
Apparently not. We held on to the farm by renting the farmhouse to another family, and maintained marital happiness by migrating like birds: for the school year we lived in Tucson, but every summer headed back to our rich foraging...
Author: Camille Kingsolver
Camille Kingsolver graduated from Duke University in 2009 and currently works in the mental health field. She is an active advocate for the local-food movement, doing public speaking for young adults of her own generation navigating food choices in a difficult economy. She lives in Asheville, N.C., and grows a vegetable garden in her front yard.Author: Steven L. Hopp
Steven L. Hopp was trained in life sciences and received his PhD from Indiana University. He has published papers in bioacoustics, ornithology, animal behavior and more recently in sustainable agriculture. He is the founder and director of the Meadowview Farmers Guild, a community development project that includes a local foods restaurant and general store that source their products locally. He teaches at Emory & Henry College in the Environmental Studies department. He coauthored Animal, Vegetable, Miracle with Barbara Kingsolver and Camille Kingsolver.Author: Barbara Kingsolver
Barbara Kingsolver's work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has earned a devoted readership at home and abroad. She was awarded the National Humanities Medal, our country's highest honor for service through the arts. She received the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for the body of her work, and in 2010 won Britain's Orange Prize for The Lacuna. Before she made her living as a writer, Kingsolver earned degrees in biology and worked as a scientist. She now lives with her family on a farm in southern Appalachia.
"Charming, zestful, funny and poetic...a serious book about important problems." - Washington Post Book World
"Charming . . . Literary magic . . . If you love the narrative voice of Barbara Kingsolver, you will be thrilled." - Houston Chronicle
"ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE makes an important contribution to the chorus of voices calling for change."" - Chicago Tribune
"If you...buy...one book this summer, make it this one...As satisfying and complete as a down home supper." - Tucson Citizen
"Engaging...Absorbing...Lovely food writing...[Kingsolver] succeeds at adopting the warm tone of a confiding friend." - Corby Kummer, New York Times Book Review
"A lovely book. " - Los Angeles Times
"[Written] with passion and hope...This novelist paints a compelling big picture-broad and ambitious, with nary an extraneous stroke." - Rocky Mountain News
"Homespun, unassuming, informed, positive, inspiring. . . . Unstinting in its concerns about this imperiled planet." - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"A profound, graceful, and literary work . . . Timeless. . . . It can change who you are." - Rick Bass, Boston Globe
"Classy and disarming, substantive and entertaining, earnest and funny....Kingsolver takes the genre to a new literary level." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Kingsolver elegantly chronicles a year of back-to-the-land living...Readers...will take heart and inspiration here." - Kirkus Reviews
"Kingsolver beautifully describes this experience." - More Magazine
"Kingsolver dresses down the American food complex...These down-on-the-farm sections are inspiring and...compelling." - Outside magazine
"Equal parts folk wisdom and political activism . . . This family effort instructs as much as it entertains." - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Full...of zest and sometimes ribald humor... Reading this book will make you hungry." - Raleigh News & Observer
"Every bit as transporting as-and more ecologically relevant than-any "Year In Provence"-style escapism...Earthy...informative....[and] englightened." - Washington Post
"An impassioned, sensual, smart and witty narrative...Kinsolver is a master at leavening a serious message with humor." - St. Petersburg Times
"Wry, insightful and inspiring to anyone who yearns to work with the earth." - Chicago Tribune (on the audiobook)
"Kingsolver...adds enough texture and zest to stir wistful yearnings in all of us...[A] vicarious taste of domesticity." - Christian Science Monitor
"A terrific effort. The delight for readers...is the chance to experience the rediscovery of community through food." - The Oregonian (Portland)
"Kingsolver, who writes evocatively about our connection to place, does so here with characteristic glowing prose. She provides the rapture." - Miami Herald
"If you're interested in learning more about healthful eating, you'll want to read...ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE." - Charlotte Observer
"Loaded with terrific information about everything from growth hormones to farm subsidies." - Entertainment Weekly
"Kingsolver carries us along in her distinct and breezy prose." - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"I defy anyone to read this book and walk away from it without gaining at least the desire to change." - Bookreporter.com
"Charming...and persuasive...Each season-and chapter-unfolds with a natural rhythm and mouth-watering appeal." - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Anyone who read and appreciated THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA by Michael Pollan will want to read Barbara Kingsolver's book." - Roanoke Times
"[This] is a book that, without being preachy, makes a solid case for eating locally instead of globally." - Richmond Times-Dispatch
"Highly digestible...Engaging." - Ellen Goodman, Boston Globe
"Other notable writers have addressed this topic, but Kingsolver claims it as her own....Self-deprecating instead of self-righteous." - Charlotte Observer
"Delectable . . . steeped in elegant prose and seasoned with smart morsels about the food industry." - Chicago Tribune
"ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE is a chronicle of food feats...I'm inclined to agree with most points Kingsolver makes." - Chicago Sun-Times