As a teen, I read The Poisonwood Bible and fell in love with a girl named Adah. Kingsolver’s unique narrative voice pulled me into a world so far from my own Southern town that I finished the book within the day. (I may have cried a bit.) Being familiar with Kingsolver when I saw her non-fiction title on the “Suggested Reading” shelf at the library, I picked it up.
In the first few sentences I was in the backseat of a car headed east armed with chips and a soda. Kingsolver’s family left Arizona for the Appalachain mountains with a mission in mind: to eat food they could grow for themselves or find within their county.
Kingsolver took me on a year-long journey of garden growing, livestock raising (and killing), and managed to sprinkle in knowledge about our malfunctioning food culture and recipes for produce through the seasons. Sounds boring right? It’s okay to think that, the subject matter is far from riveting… unless you’re Barbara Kingsolver. I swear that woman could make the back of the shampoo bottle into a compelling short story.
The most interesting tidbit from this vicarious locavore adventure was learning about the disappearing foods. Varieties of fruits, vegetables, and even livestock that are going extinct because nobody will buy or eat them. The only thing that kept me from ordering packets of heritage seeds and eggs was my scattered brain. (I couldn’t remember what I wanted to do long enough to do it.)
I’ve always wanted to grow a garden, a real one, to bring in armfuls of squash and tomatoes and peppers to eat with enough left over to preserve for those dark winter months… but let’s be realistic, I’ve only been able to bring in a few small carrots from a garden that quickly turned into a patch of grass inside a raised box. Barbara’s family farming adventure yielded enough food to feed them through the year while relying on other local farms for things they couldn’t or didn’t grow, including animals. I felt challenged to grow more of my own food, or if not, to eat and buy what was grown nearby. I also have a strange yearning to raise and kill my own livestock. I’m sure that feeling will pass. Maybe.
The Kingsolver family must have some latent magic in their veins.