Thank you for joining the Partners in Health and Wholeness Book Club. You can officially sign-up here. Through it, we hope to engage people of faith in discussions over why our health matters. Our current choice of reading is “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life” by Barbara Kingsolver. We are posting updates through the PHW Facebook page, but our PHW blog page has the discussion posts in full with responses from staff. Just look for the picture of the apple on top of the books and you will find past Book Club entries.
This chapter, entitled, “Smashing Pumpkins” describes some fall and winter staples like pumpkins, garlic, onions, potatoes and apples. Impressively, there are many varieties of these crops that store so well they can be harvested in the fall and kept through the winter. As the Kingsolver family prepares for frost, she says, “We had eaten an entire season of botanical development, in the correct order. Months would pass before any new leaf poked up out of the ground. So…now what?”
Although it does not exactly seem easy to grow one’s own food in the summer, it does seem slightly more obvious when the fruit is hanging off the vine just waiting to be picked and eaten. When it comes to storing, I am produce challenged. Despite all my good intentions, my produce often suffers at the hands of changed plans, procrastination or poor refrigerator placement. Slimy, shriveling, molding produce leaves me with waves of guilt and remorse; however, my experience also leaves me with a great appreciation for Kingsolver and others like her who plan ahead for an entire winter of local eating. And not only does she know how to do it, but she follows through to provide healthy meals for her family in the winter months. We take for granted that this is a very impressive feat when we rely on the imported fruits and veggies from the grocery store.
Reading about Kingsolver curing, canning, and storing in the root cellar, I realize I have much to learn about food preservation. I am also reminded that becoming committed to local eating is just that—a commitment. This is not something one can commit to halfheartedly or on a whim. And of course, a committed locavore must be passionate about both good food and environmental stewardship. Kingsolver’s passion shines through as she describes the numerous types of potatoes she grows, and the unique attributes of each. How could I have taken something so delightful for granted? Potatoes are all around us — often in the form of fries or chips, so I have missed the delight and nuances of the varieties. And I don’t mean sweet potatoes and white potatoes — the two are not actually related. I often feel overwhelmed by the depth of Kingsolver’s knowledge about the many varieties of plants and what is needed to grow them. Oh, how much there is to learn!
- Do you struggle with food preservation? What helps you make sure you consume all the produce you grow or buy? If you have tips, please share them below!
- Are you a committed local eater? What motivates you? If you are not, why not?
- Although Kingsolver does not reflect on God’s creation in so many words, I cannot help but read the details about her relationship with and understanding of the land and its produce without wanting to thank God for such a great gift. I mentioned above that I have taken for granted the gift of potatoes. Is there an aspect of God’s creation you have taken for granted?