Windy City Media Group Frontpage News Home
CELEBRATING 28+ YEARS OF Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender NEWS

Search Gay News Articles
Advanced Search
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2014-04-16
Download Issue
  News Index       Archives   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds   AIDS @ 32
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime

Brahman/i ne-Hijra Stand Up Comedy Show extended Brahman/i ne-Hijra Stand Up Comedy Show extended
CHICAGO (April 16, 2014) Due to popular demand, About Face Theatre and ...

Browse Gay News Index   Browse Gay News Archives
  Windy City Times

Yasmin Nair Book Review: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
by Yasmin Nair
2007-05-16

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


In 2004, Barbara Kingsolver relocated from Arizona to Virginia with her family to live for a year on locally produced food that included fruits and vegetables grown, and turkeys killed, in their garden and orchard. They were inspired by the slow-food movement, which advocates the protection of indigenous plant and animal forms threatened by cheaply produced homogenous varieties made for mass production and easy transportation.

Kingsolver deftly weaves the larger context of global agribusiness into descriptions of her family's days planting, pruning and harvesting. Her book espouses many admirable principles, but falls prey to the cloying sentimentality that runs rampant in most food writing and leaves us desperate for the acidic wit of Anthony Bourdain. It also reflects a larger trend in food and environmental writing: The recuperation and depoliticizing of more radical activism into a middle-class aesthetic.

Ultimately, the book is an account of what happens when a nice upper-middle-class family decides to live off the land. Kingsolver is anxious to point out that hers is a solidly respectable endeavor by lovely normal folk. So, despite the alternative nature of her experiment, Kingsolver distances herself from the vegans/hippies who might seem like her natural allies. She insists that she and her fellow farmers are nothing like the 'dreadlocked, Birkenstocked [ guy ] …reeking faintly of garlic.' Instead, they wear 'Red Wing work boots, barbershop haircuts, Levis with a little mud on the cuffs, men and women who probably go to church on Sunday...' So there. Hard-working, all-American sorts with none of that radical nonsense cluttering their neatly-trimmed heads, and presumably smelling of apple pie.

Such caricatures erase the fact that vegans and hippies were among the first in the United States to make connections between food and politics—connections that Kingsolver only occasionally makes in her folksy and precious narrative about good farmers living off the earth. The group Food Not Bombs ( FNB ) ( www.foodnotbombs.net ) provides vegetarian food to the hungry while protesting war and other conditions that create poverty. They're well known for their 'food recycling'—dumpster-diving for food trashed by markets and restaurants for cosmetic 'imperfections.'

These tactics may not be organic but they are every bit as ethical as and more politicized than Kingsolver's year of eating locally. While her brood will not let a speck of non-organic flour pass its lips, FNB utilizes and maximizes available resources in a much less insular and more sustainable fashion.

It never occurs to an otherwise progressive-minded Kingsolver that her project might replicate the United States' political isolationism. And, as even Slow Food NYC's co-leader David Berman has written, choosing only local food can actually diminish the biodiversity that's essential to a healthy environment. But Kingsolver is fixated on the ideas that Alice Waters and others have made popular: The earth is our giver, and we are obliged to eat locally and personally know the farmers who bring its harvest to us.

Or not. I'll never know the city employees who keep my streets clean, but I'll also never vote for any alderman who opposes their unionization. In other words, we don't have to have a stiflingly intimate knowledge of farmers to support their work. Some of us, terrified even of earthworms emerging from the ground, are fine with never going near 'real mud.' And we might not want to spend all—or any—Saturday morning talking to every farmer at the market. But we might support their practices in more impersonal and equally effective ways, like pressing our local stores to buy their produce or insisting that our politicians stop enabling agribusiness.

The current food production system is undoubtedly disastrous for both the world's economy and our health. But the best solution is to think politically, radically and inventively about how best to create a sustainable and varied system of production and consumption that diminishes waste while providing better and more healthful food to everyone. Kingsolver's solution might work for her family, but the rest of us might not want to revert to our hunter-gatherer selves just yet.

E-mail Nair at welshzen@yahoo.com .

Kingsolver appears May 18, 7:30 p.m., at the Swedish American Museum, 5211 N. Clark. Tickets and book available through Women and Children First, 5233 N. Clark.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.

Lesbianography: Lesbians and Sex, Out at CHM May 8 2014-04-17
BOOK REVIEW Falling into Place 2014-04-15
New Evanston independent bookstore to open in June 2014-04-15
Gerber Hart Library and Archives book sale April 26-27 2014-04-14
Chicago Humanities Fest names Alison Cuddy Program Director 2014-04-10
Comic book publishers sever Uline ties over anti-gay ads 2014-04-10
The Summer I Wasn't Me 2014-04-09
Lavender U: Balay on sexuality, gender in steel mills 2014-04-07
The AIDS Generation: Stories of Survival and Resilience 2014-04-01
BOOKS Man talks about being gay in the Colombian army 2014-04-01
Women & Children First plans April author events 2014-03-30
Women & Children First Bookstore hosts Jimmy Carter book signing 2014-03-27
Harry Nimmo deciphers fact from fiction in 'Before Summer' 2014-03-26
Gay Colombian soldier tells story in new book 2014-03-26
Knives and autopsies just the start in new Peggy Shinner book 2014-03-26
GLSEN, Matthew Shepard Foundation release Shepard curriculum 2014-03-20
Library commissioner talks changes, technology 2014-03-20
BOOK REVIEW Pee-Shy 2014-03-19
BOOK REVIEW The Days of Anna Madrigal 2014-03-19
BOOK REVIEW Teaching the Cat to Sit 2014-03-19
BOOK REVIEW Off the Rocks 2014-03-19
Katy Perry adds second show at United Center 2014-03-18
Women of Letters at Mayne Stage March 21 2014-03-15
CPL Commissioner Bannon at Gerber/Hart event 2014-03-14
Strub reflects on past and present AIDS activism 2014-03-13
BOOKS Jackie Collins: True 'Confessions' 2014-03-12
BOOK REVIEW Legally Wed 2014-03-12
Orchid show in Glencoe through March 16 2014-03-12
Sean Strub to make two Chicago appearances 2014-03-12
Jimmy Carter coming to Andersonville on March 27 2014-03-12
Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes talks new media in Elmhurst 2014-03-12
'It Gets Better' with Tamale at Guild Complex 2014-03-09
"LGBT Writers in Schools" brings writers into classrooms 2014-03-08
Lambda book finalists announced 2014-03-06
Facebook co-founder at Elmhurst on March 6 2014-03-05
BOOK REVIEW I'll Take You There: Mavis Staples... 2014-03-04
Women & Children First bookstore March events, honor 2014-02-27
HIV/AIDS activist Sean Strub visiting March 12 2014-02-26
VIEWS: MOMBIAN 'Jacob's New Dress' adds to growing genre 2014-02-26
Events 2014-02-26





Copyright © 2014 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
the online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 



 

Gay-owned B&B offers warmth in Rogers Park
 
'This Is What It Feels Like' to be Armin van Buuren
 
Pam Grier talks 'Dining Out For Life,' comic conventions
 
BENT NIGHTS Sharon Corr; Dum Dum Girls; Landmarks
 
UIC delves into trans* healthcare policy with film
 
Windy City Times Current DownloadNightspots Current DownloadQueercast Current Download
Windy City Media Group BlogsJoin Our Email List!Donate Now








  News Index       Archives   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds   AIDS @ 32
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime



About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video      News Videos      Nightspots Videos      Entertainment Videos      Queercast Videos      Comedy Videos     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.