I met Barbara Kingsolver on a tired, baby induced sleepless night, almost two years ago. I think we only had basic cable at the time, so I had reduced options for late night shows. I watched a documentary on PBS or some local channel. There she was, looking a little strangely, talking about things of life and writing that fascinated me. That week I borrowed her latest (of that time) book from the local library – The Poisonwood Bible. The subject was not something I was much interested in but – who was this woman who writes like it was a game, like everything goes, like it was magic? Fascinating. But I was a new mother and I had no time. No time at all. So I forgot about her. Now she is back in my life and I am grateful. There are few still living writers to whom I pray on my knees, in my personal church, and she is one of them.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a book one needs to read slowly. It is filled with gardening and food politics and life. A book with a strong perspective. Eat locally, save the farming, save the land, save fuels and energy, save the planet, save yourselves. I am all for it.
Before I write about my personal history with the food and the farming, I have to say that there were things I found out from this book that made me mad. Mad like hell. I realized that all around the world financial interests are above people, children, health, lives. The world is run by corporations, who run governments, who run the world. People come last. If once upon a time, in ancient Greece, they discovered that democracy is a political structure that most strongly protects the people, today democracy has been overused, drained out, and mean nothing anymore.
I found out, for example, that in India, until as recently as 1998 there were many small farms producing plants for oils such as sesame or mustard. That was destroyed in two simple steps. First, through some law, they closed all the small mills that were processing these plants. Secondly, they lifted a ban for imported soy oil. So now, you can probably find genetically modified soy oils all over the processed foods in India. Oh, people are involved? Who knew? Who cares?
I also found out that in US it is illegal to test the cows for mad cow disease. it’s illegal. Oh, God forbid, some lives could be spared! Some official said that “people are fine knowing that this is a very rare disease.” Oh, yeah, we are perfectly fine. At least my family is not eating any other meat than vegetarian fed chicken. Not in US, at least. When I go home, to Romania, I switch on pork in a blink. I know.
Another interesting fact – human beings are lactose intolerant. The ones who can tolerate the milk are just mutants. Interesting, right?
Today I’ve been to a beautiful farm in our town, to pick strawberries and have some fun time with children and friends. As I sat on a bench in the shade of a fruit tree (apple probably) I felt like shouting: I want this farm! I want to be that lady with dirt under her fingernails, who wears a man’s shirt and a cute pink bandana, and is pulling a pole out of the ground to fix a fence. She looks right. I already am her, at a smaller scale (3 small backyard-garden beds of vegetables and herbs) and without the pole-pulling skills. I don’t mind it at all. As long as I have, like Barbara Kingsolver, my little writing on the side. I kind of need that too. A sort of food, I guess.
I will tell about this book to everybody I know. I am telling you.