Thursday, June 5, 2008

Recent Quote from Barbara Kingsolver

(Read it!)
Barbara Kingsolver was at McGill University in Montreal last week, and here's what she had to say about the current fight against Big Ag in India, and the fight against Big Ag in general. Love it!
"I believe there is absolutely a direct relationship between living with too much and living with not enough… we have in every part of the world lost control of our food systems to agribusiness… [referring to Monsanto] a number of companies… have quite systematically removed seed banks, have contaminated [and] diminished the genetic material that all people in the world have with which to feed themselves, and it’s a terrifying problem. [T]he only way we can reclaim control over our food systems is to [first] step away, to any extent that we can, from the dismal presumption that it’s too late, because it’s not, it can’t be (we owe this to our kids to try) and to try whatever we can to reinvest in [and re-energize] our local [diversified and sustainable] food systems. If you can do that, you are helping the farmers in India because you’re walking away from agribusiness; you are forcing them to relinquish absolute control."
Awesome. I'm so glad this movement has the voice and smarts of Barbara Kingsolver.
I finished reading "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" last week, and I found it inspiring and engrossing, with a minor caveat. I avoided reading it for a long time- first, I couldn't get past the second chapter of her earlier work of fiction, "The Poisionwood Bible"; second, I honestly thought I'd be jealous of the life she is living- yeah, I know- dumb reason, but there it is. Well, I was jealous (just a little), but it didn't keep me from enjoying her book- which I did, tremendously. I really hope there are follow-ups to this book. And I hope her older daughter Camille, who contributed to the book, keeps on writing- she clearly has the genes.
The caveat? Ok, I'm totally splitting hairs here, but she doesn't seem to put up much food via other methods besides freezing or canning. Both methods are absolutely great, but they both require a lot of energy. I personally would have been really interested and impressed if she had put up more food without electricity- say, via lactic fermentation, or oil or salt preserving. But I'm already a convert and that niggling complaint is completely beside the point. The book's intended audience are the millions and millions of Americans who don't care whether their food is industrial or not, and have absolutely no idea why they should care.
I read a lot of Amazon reviews about her book- the common criticism (in both positive and negative reviews) is that the book is preachy. Yeah... and? This is a subject that not only needs a heck of a lot more preaching, it needs to be shouted from the rafters. Would that this topic got as much attention in the media as pop culture or professional sports. Because without healthy, living soil, sustainable food-growing methods, and GMO-free, genetically diverse crops, we humans are pretty much goners. And you can take that to the bank.


heather t said...

I confess to being a Kingsolver fan from way back, so if I sound gushy, that's why.

I think the point of this book was more about living where life is more sustainable and trying to live off of the land there. The part about the river in Arizona just broke my heart (and is not the first time she's written about water issues in AZ). I did not get the impression that the focus was supposed to be on living "no impact" - therefore I can understand why some of the food preservation methods were of the higher-energy variety.

I think the methods you mentioned are valuable tho - maybe you should write that book? ;)

ilex said...

I totally agree with you, Heather- the book's main thrust wasn't about low-impact living; the energy-intensive food preservation was just something that somewhat bugged me. Like I said, I'm totally splitting hairs. I loved the book and hopes she writes more non-fiction on the subject. (It also doesn't help that I'm simply not a fan of fiction writing.)

The Colorado river basin situation is completely heartbreaking, isn't it? Humans aren't meant to live in the desert. If we were, we'd be more reptillian.

I'm happy to say: That book has already been written. It's called "Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning" by the Farmers and Gardeners of Terre Vivante.

I wouldn't mind writing a book someday, though.

Rabbits' Guy said...

Can't comment on the topic .. know too little about it! But glad to see you have a book or two in the works too! Disapproving Wormlets?

Robbyn said...

I loved this Kingsolver book! And I think many people who have never had their hands in the dirt mistake "impassioned" for "preachy"...

I say to them "get yer hands dirty and be informed about what's on your plate"...and then reread the book ;-)

L.Bo Marie said...

I'm going to have to see if I can pick it up- lol, add it to the growing pile of books on my desk.

(side note:: my BOSS (as in the exec director) came to me yesterday with a pile of books in hand.... "you like to read, let's start a book club- lunch is boring here, read these and choose which one we should do first".. lol, she's awesome)

It took me a bit to get into, but I like poisonwood by about the halfway mark.

d. moll, said...

I haven't read BKs book, but am shocked she wouldn't mention fermentation. Shocked! Good book is "Wild Fermentation" by Sandor Katz, and I have a little blog entry, only one in 2006 called "Ruminations on Fermentation", which is probably redundant......

d. moll, said...

Oops, "Ruminations" is under 2007, not 2006. Numbers.......humph...

FRITZ said...

may i borrow this from you? it's the one kingsolver i have not read.

preach on, sister.

kate smudges said...

This is a good book - just in the middle of it. The more people who preach the better, I figure. Someone's got to do it unless we want to stand by and watch the world being destroyed.

Amanda said...

Wow I just did a review of this book on my blog too!!!

It was incredible.