Initially, I read this book at the same time I was writing my research paper on food. It was super helpful, factual, and intriguing to me. The story mirrors that of my dreams in the future to live off of my land with chickens, pigs, fruits, and vegetables (who knows if that will ever happen). Kingsolver writes about her family's adventurous year of surviving off of their backyard and neighboring farms. Her husband adds to the book with excerpts, such as the one below, titled Oily Food:Americans put almost as much fossil fuel into our refrigerators as our cars. We're consuming about 400 gallons of oil a year per citizen-about 17 percent of our nation's energy use-for agriculture, a close second to our vehicular use. Tractors, combines, harvesters, irrigation, sprayers, tillers, balers, and other equipment all use petroleum. Even bigger gas guzzlers on the farm are not the machines, but so-called inputs. Synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides use oil and natural gas as their starting materials, and in their manufacturing. More than a quarter of all farming energy goes into synthetic fertilizers.But getting the crop from seed to harvest takes only one-fifth of the total oil used for our food. The lion's share is consumed during the trip from the farm to your plate. Each food item in a typical U.S. meal has traveled an average of 1,500 miles. In addition to direct transport, other fuel-thirsty steps include processing (drying, milling, cutting, sorting, baking), packaging, warehousing, and refrigeration. Energy calories consumed by production, packaging, and shipping far outweigh the energy calories we receive from the food.A quick way to improve food-related fuel economy would be to buy a quart of motor oil and drink it. More palatable options are available. If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country's oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week. That's not gallons, but barrels. Small changes in buying habits can make big differences. Becoming a less energy-dependent nation may just need to start with a good breakfast.Her daughter adds seasonal recipes and meal plans throughout the book as well, breaking up the story and adding flavor to the book. If you're at all interested in what you put into your body or the industrialized food system in America this is a great place to start learning.
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