Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What Are You Eating?

You are what you eat. Are We? I have just finished reading Barbara Kingsolver's book, " Animal, Vegetable Miracle." It was published in 2008 but never appeared in our bookshops so I got our local bookseller to get it in for me. I knew it would be a troubling and controversial read but wanted to all the same.
This non fiction book is the record of  how Barbara's family moved from Arizona back to a family property in the Appalachian region to live  and grow their own food for a whole year eating locally or self grown food only. The book has parts also written by her daughter Camille and husband Stephen Hopp.
 if you are interested there is a website www. animalvegetablemiracle.com
The Farm Tour  slide show of photos is worth looking at.  The shot of the pantry shelves loaded with jars is amazing! Recipes from the book are also available there.
 Barbara says she has always been a scribbler. I wonder if that is similar to a list making, diary keeping, blogger?
 I knew this would challenge my thinking. We grow avocados and kiwifruit for export to other countries. ( NZ apples were mentioned as ones to avoid  because of the miles ) Eating only locally grown ( how far is local? ) It  is much easier if you live somewhere like BOP New Zealand or California but not so good if you live near a desert or in Iceland like Gudrun.
 Personally I think a balance where  a few imported bananas; coffee; cocoa and  spices are acceptable because somewhere else grows them better than here.( and because I like them! ) 
 Growing and eating seasonally makes sense. Farmer's markets make huge sense. Growing as much of your own as you can space/ time wise makes great sense.( We are trying )

Parts of the book that got me upset were about GM crops; the stranglehold a few companies have on the sale of seed and the long term short sighted greed of such companies. Things I learnt - Monsanto; Syngenta; Mitsui; Aventis; Dupont and Dow control 98% of the World's seed sales. I already knew about Monsanto altering crop/plant physiology so it can be sprayed over with Roundup killing the weeds but not the plant and that they Monsanto own both the seeds and the spray.( and ALL rights to both )I did not know they allocate US$10million a year to investigate "Seed Savers". And prosecute them.
 Rather than me relate the story here,  google or look on Wikipedia,   "The Case  of  Percy Schmeiser ( Canadian farmer ) versus Monsanto."
 How ridiculous and appalling has the world got when this sort of greed takes hold?
 Here in New Zealand Kay Baxter started saving heritage seeds in 1986.
 2 other worthwhile seed companies are Kings Seeds and Egmont Seeds.
 I also found out Yates seeds in New Zealand are owned by an Australian chemical company.
 Certainly there is lots of food for thought in this book and if you grow your own you will laugh knowingly at the parts about zucchini turning into marrows over night and similar. The parts I really enjoyed were about little Lily and her hens and egg selling business at a tender age. Also informative was the part about the turkeys' breeding or not as the case may be. I can recall Percy Peacock who lives in our neighbourhood finding both rabbits and coloured  objects attractive and   worthy of his attention and tail display.


julieQ said...

You know, when I was a child, we grew all our own food...fruit, vegies, meats, eggs, milk. Ground our own flour from our own wheat and corn meal from our own corn. Now...very different, and I think we are much less healthy for it.

Molly said...

I haven't read this yet but it's on my list. When I was growing up we ate mostly what was grown and raised locally and we were healthy. Big treats were oranges from Spain and bananas from wherever... We are spoiled now with the selection, but I think it's better [ both for us and the environment] to eat locally produced food as much as possible.

The mental image of Percy wooing a rabbit made me howl!

MandaBurms said...

The power behind the big companies is scary. Especially not being allowed to save your own seeds. I'm a huge fan of Kay Baxter.
Love Leanne

Isabelle said...

Yes, I'm sure it's better for the world if we eat local... but that's what we did when I was a small girl and the Scottish winter diet was rather dull: potatoes and turnips featured heavily!

The glass markers have little suckers on them, in answer to your question.

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