From Stories to Strawberries

A celebrated author’s yearlong experiment in local eating

By Tracie McMillan

With her rare mix of storytelling skills and a social conscience, best-selling author Barbara Kingsolver has built a career on the premise that a well-told story can move mountains. Her latest effort, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, tells an entirely new tale: her own. Spun around her family’s move to Virginia and their subsequent decision to eat only foods grown and raised in their county—including their own farm—Animal marries Kingsolver’s narrative gifts with reported essays from her husband, biologist Steven Hopp, and recipes from her then-19-year-old daughter, Camille. Plenty caught up with Kingsolver to talk about the local food movement, taking your dinner seriously, and why eating well is for everyone—not just the elite. 

You started this project a few years ago, long before local food was on the cover of Time. Why did you decide to do it, and did your friends think you were crazy?
The truth is we were pretty quiet about it. We didn’t make any big announcement to our family or friends. We’ve been growing a lot of our food for years, and when we moved to the farm, it just came up: "How about if we try to produce all of it ourselves, or get it from our neighbors who are farmers?"

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