Monday, July 21, 2008

The Books That Changed My Life

When I was in high school, studying biology, we learned about the terms "herbivore," "carnivore," and "omnivore." However, it wasn't until last May that I learned about the term "locavore."

Barbara Kingsolver's wonderful book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle can be almost singlehandedly credited with bringing greater awareness to the local food movement. She really made me aware of not only what I was putting in my mouth, but where it came from. I wrote a brief post about the book last year, but now that I've finished, and had some time to reflect, feel that I can go into greater detail about it.

Whenever I went grocery shopping, I was conscientious of buying as much organic produce as my budget could possibly afford. However, it wasn't until after reading Kingsolver's book that I became aware of where those products came from. My organic gala apples, for example? Direct from Chile. While no pesticides were used to grow these delicious fruits, the petroleum and fuel burned to transport them to the United States was not worth it. The same goes for other produce that we get during the winter, such as tomatoes, when nothing grows in here in Connecticut.

Fortunately for Kingsolver, she lives on a large farm in Appalachia where she can grow most of her produce. She has the space in her kitchen to can fruits and veggies during the winter. She even raises her own chickens, not just for the eggs, but for the meat. Same goes for her turkeys. Anything she can't raise, she buys locally. Kingsolver doesn't have any cows, so she purchases her milk from local dairy farms.

As for me, I live in a two-bedroom condo in a mid-sized Connecticut city. I don't even have a full-sized kitchen, let alone a basement with a large refrigerator. We have farmers markets by the dozen scattered throughout the state from May till October, but during the winter, nothing grows here except for ice. It's easy for me to get local produce during these months, but there aren't many--if any--places to get local meat. Even if I can't get local meat, I want to be sure that the meat and poultry I buy is hormone free and was treated humanely when it was alive.

So between Barbara Kingsolver and Mollie Katzen, I should have a good diet. My goal for this next school year is to try and maintain my diet as well as I do during the summer, when I have more time to cook and really pay attention to my food options.

On another random note, it is now 8:45 PM here on the East Coast, and it's now officially dark. We're already losing more daylight! Arrgh! I shouldn't let this get me down, but you will discover later in the year, I don't do so well in the winter months, physically, emotionally, or mentally...

But let's worry about that when January comes, shall we?

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