Thursday, August 28, 2008

must read: animal, vegetable, miracle

For my 29th birthday my very thoughtful wife gave me a book I had wanted for some time: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by the esteemed Barbara Kingsolver. I'm now plowing through the chapters and the content is exceeding expectations.

Based on the three chapters I've read so far, the book mainly focuses on Ms. Kingsolver's experience moving to a farm in Virginia to reconnect with the land and create a lifestyle out of eating locally produced food, exclusively. The prose is very smooth, and it exudes the right combination of personal anecdotes and hardhitting facts about the broken American food economy/culture. Here's just a small taste:

All the world's farms currently produce enough food to make every person on the globe fat. Even though 800 million people are chronically underfed (6 will die of hunger-related causes while you read this), it's because they lack money and opportunity, not because food is unavailable in their countries. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that current food production can sustain world food needs even for the 8 billion people who are projected to inhabit the planet in 2030. This will hold even with anticipated increases in meat consumption, and without adding genetically modified crops. [page 18]

So where does all this food go, you ask? According to Kingsolver, "most of it becomes animal feed for meat consumption, or the ingredients of processed foods for wealthier consumers who are already getting plenty of calories." You can add the production of ethanol to the mix, too. Think twice about that bag of Tostitos.

I'll try to share some other tidbits as I move through the book - stay tuned...

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