Saturday, November 10, 2007

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I finished reading Barbara Kinlsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food of Life. It was a great read that has influenced my thinking.

The premise of the book is that she and her family focused for a year on eating almost entirely locally. They did this for multiple reasons. First, out of concern for the environment-so much of our food is shipped from such distances that the fuel alone is hard on creation.

Second, out of a desire to eat really good food, which is best when it is in season and fresh (and of course free of chemicals and pesticides).

Third, out a desire to bless the local economy, believing that if all people ate locally, farmers would be able to make a living with sustainable, organic agriculture. Agribusiness farming practices include horrible animal conditions and producing tomatoes based upon their ability to ship well as opposed to taste good.

Finally, agribusiness farming is leading to a shocking drop of biodiversity on our planet (thousands of plant species that were once raised by farmers around the world are just gone from the planet now) being replaced by genetically modified foods. I do find it a persuasive argument that we could be courting disaster (famine) with genetic modification and limited diversity. It strikes me that playing God is never safe.

Changing my ways...

The idea of buying locally, organic, and free range seems so obvious now. I am surrounded by great opportunities. I just need to take advantage of them. There is Locust Point Farm which is less than 2 miles from my home, as well as Nickerson's Meats a few miles in the other direction, and Rumbleway farm on the other side of the county that is certified organic. (If you click on the Locust Point farm link, you'll see them all listed along with others.)

At Locust Point, I can get eggs fresh off of the farm, organic milk and cheese from free range cows brought from Chambersburg PA (not exactly local, but certainly better), and fresh free range chicken they raise, as well as local beef, pork, etc.

Detwilers Farmers Market is on the same road (Locust Point, just down from Baker's Restaurant). They offer fresh local produce from spring through fall, along with baked goods, eggs, jelly, etc.

Then there is the farmers market that opened in Middletown, the farmers market on Kirkwood Hwy. in Newark, and the market in New Castle on Route 13. (I am not sure about the one in Elkton. I didn't find anything local or organic at that one.) Granted, not all of these are offering all local goods, but I have a much better chance there.

And my best year round option for local, fresh, organic food is at Newark Natural Foods Co-Op. They have a real live farmers market with local farmers Spring, Summer, and Fall on Sundays from 10-2. In addition, the co-op is a year round great source of just about everything.

Finally, I discovered Calvert Farm which offers a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription. They offer farm fresh produce, delivered weekly to many locations, including the Newark Co-op. So I am finally going to subscribe to one (I have contemplated in the past).

I have also been inspired to begin using my bread machine again, using organic flour and such.

Last but not least, I want to learn to make cheese. Yes, that is typed correctly. I want to learn to make cheese. In the book, Kingsolver has a recipe for mozzarella in 30 minutes. Who knew making cheese is about as simple as having milk, the right cultures, and a few other ingredients! I am hoping to receive the cookbook for Christmas (if I can wait that long).

I have to confess, though, that a big part of the book was about their garden. Ray and I have tried a garden for the past four summers. We are just not good gardeners. So the jury is still out as to whether will again be trying to be produce food as local as our back yard.

I recommend the book. It is as entertaining as it is interesting and informative. Regardless of whether you read it or not, I invite you to join with me in eating more locally and in season. It's good for people and good for creation.


  1. I applaud your decision to but locally. However, I do not find it a persuasive argument that we could be courting disaster (famine) with genetic modification. While I lament the loss of any species from the planet, Our ability to create genetic modifications is not entirely too far akin of Mendel working with peas in his garden in Austria, and far from the creation of Frankenstein's monster. In the end, I would hope that genetically modified foods would enhance biodiversity not limit it. I admit my faith in technology may be a bit naive, but I also know that the Myth of Pristine Origins works about as well for agribusiness as it does for the church.

  2. Tom, I encourage you to read "What you need to know about genetic engineering" on Organic Gardening's website. This is different from the process of improving species of plants by creating hybrids from the best of the best (tomatoes, for example). It means the creation of plants that are "engineered" to have natural toxins like Bt as part of their cells. This can lead to the following, which is detailed on the website: Harm to wildlife; harm to soil; harm to humans; hidden allergens; antibiotic resistance; religious and moral considerations; superbugs; superweeds; indentured farmers; and pollen drift. This is a big step past hybridization into something dangerous and unhealthful. Blessings.,7518,s1-4-54-49,00.html
    What You Need To Know About Genetic Engineering

  3. eat local-- grow it in your back yard if you can. I too have a some great local places to buy. They are a blessing. I made a salad on Thanksgiving which had the last of the season's peppers, lettuce, carrots form local farms and radishes which I grew.