Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Nothing Like a Good Book

View Along Armstrong Road, 2007, Oil on Panel, 12x16

My flight last week to New Mexico had two stops, including one plane change, so there was a lot of sitting both there and back. Before I left though, I took care to choose a good book. I thought it would be a really good distraction for me, plus I could read without any distractions. Nice, huh? I have always been a prolific reader, usually managing to finish at least a few books per week. But in the last few years with all I have going on, I am lucky if I can read a full page before I fall asleep each night. This annoys me to no end and I miss being able to breeze through books that seem so interesting. Reading this little each day makes it so difficult to follow a plot line or to really feel what the book is saying. However, despite the fact that I can hardly read one book each month I have not stopped buying books that interest me, and I am guessing I could start up my own small town bookstore with the number of books I have stacked next to my side of the bed, all patiently waiting their turn for me to get to them.

I have been itching to read a book that I have had on hand since practically the day it was released. "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver. And then Bridgette mentioned the book to me awhile ago thinking I'd like it and boy was she right! It was the perfect book. While I didn't read so much on the way there, I finished the entire book on the flight back home. It's about the author's family and how they spent a year eating only local and in season foods, or food they grew or raised. The purpose was to order to cut back their reliance on the foods that use incredible amounts of fossil fuels to get to our supermarkets as well as to support local food growers. It's a fascinating book, full of research combined with their experiences and certainly has inspired me to make some changes in what we buy and when we buy it. We already do some things, we try to grow our own food (try is the key word there, heh), we have the eggs and I do buy local food especially during the summer when the farmer's market is open. I mostly cook our meals from scratch and I do a lot of baking as well. But I confess to buying too many packaged foods, mostly crackers, pasta, and cereal, and I have a tendency to buy a lot of bananas and other fruits and vegetables out of season.

So I am all charged up now, and Doug and I are going to make a more serious effort at growing a better and more productive vegetable garden next year. This year the garden got away from us and while we had great greens for awhile plus strawberries, garlic, zucchini and the tomatoes are looking good, the rest got eaten by pests or smothered by weeds. Since I want to grow so many other things, I am putting together a new plan for the garden, which will be a ton of work (um, starting next month). But good worthwhile, albeit backbreaking work.

Anyway, I highly recommend this book. It is well researched and sure highlights how messed up our food system here in America has become.


Lindsay said...

Tracy, I know we do not know eachother but I have been following your blog for a few months: cheering with you about your commercial successes and admiring your work.
I'm so sorry to hear about your mother. Life is heart breaking and your impulse to share, I hope, will yield you some comfort. My sister in law is batteling cancer and its is very hard to watch. I know it will get her in the end and she is like a blood sister to me. I treasure every mintue we have.
Thinking of you and your family...

Lisa said...

I have a good friend that is a truck driver and after talking to him it's rather apparently our country is a bit confused.

Water flows into the river as the snow melts here in colorado. It flows downstream until it gets to california where it is put in a bottle and then put in a truck and driven back to colorado to be sold at costco. That makes no sense.

Crazy things happen - like the cans for pepsi are shipped from CA to CO where the pepsi is put inside. The cans for some other beverage are manufactured in CO and shipped to CA - where they are packaged. All of these plants are owned by the same company.

Any prepackaged food that is purchased may have been in a truck more than once during it's life if you consider all the pieces of the packaging. There seems so little thought to the environment.

I applaud you for your efforts. I do what I can with my garden and locally available products but certainly could do more.

Tracy said...

Hi Lindsay, Thanks so much for visiting and delurking:) I actually have visited your site a few times, and I even have it bookmarked, small blog world I guess.

So sorry to hear that you are going through a similar situation with your sister in law. Good that you can spend time with her.

Hi Lisa, You are so right, it is crazy how much traveling our food and packaging does before we even buy it. The bottled water really bugs me, because I actually am glad I can pick up a bottle of water, especially when I travel, as I don't drink soda or anything else. But buying a bottle of water supports this terrible industry that is so wasteful. Ugh. When I am around home I just carry my own reusable water around with me.

I think having a garden and buying locally grown food is great! If more people did that things would really start to change.

indigomar said...

Hi Tracy,
Welcome back from your trip to see your mother. We all share in these experiences of life and when I read your words about your time in N.M., they sat with me for most of the day. This last year has had loss of loved ones and I was reminded of the hugs shared with family and the closeness we felt and also the poignancy of time and life.
Barbara Kingsolver has long been one of my favorite writers and I'm currently reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I've told probably about 50 people about it and I think I promised to loan it to all of them when I'm done reading it!
I am glad to say I've had a certain degree of environmental consciousness in regards to purchases of food and other necessities for a large part of my life. This reading challenges me to take it to a new level of effort and thought about what we use and buy. Right now it's easy, the garden is prolific (17 + cucumbers a day!), but later,after the garden is gone, not so easy.

GiselleG said...

First of all, welcome back. It's good to see the paintings online again. Again, my thoughts go out to you and your family.

As for this book you mention... well, I just finished it a week or so ago and it's had its way with me too. Now, I haven't really embraced the growing my own food part (unless you count some tomatoes and basil), but it has influenced how I shop. I was doing the farmer's market anyway, but now I do it more, and understand what it means. I'm also more of a critical shopper, skipping the produce & fish that's travelled long distances or is out of season.
I'll probably never have my own chickens, but that bit about cheesemaking sounded very tempting!

gr said...

I havn't read that one yet, but I recommend ALL of Barbara Kingsolver's books, fiction and non-, and then start all over again, and enjoy them a second time...

Tracy said...

Mary Ann, Thanks for your kind and comforting words. Glad to hear that you have been so affected by this book as well. I, too, have told everyone I bump into about the book too!

I am going to stock up on stuff at the farmer's market this weekend and starting freezing some of it. I might do some canning but am not too sure about that. I have always hated canning, but god knows I sure have changed my mind about various things over the years, so who knows:)

Giselle, thanks for the welcome back, I am glad to be back home.

You may have missed my posts about cheesemaking from last spring! I have been dabbling with it for awhile but haven't done too much with it over the summer, with the exception of making some soft cheese. In fact I have some goat cheese draining today. Learning to make cheese been a very interesting project!

Gary, You know, I think I have The Poisonwood Bible around somewhere, but I haven't read it. I should dig it out.

I think you'd really like this one.

bridgette said...

i'm so glad you liked the book! I am the same way with reading and books...and I don't have time now to read with being so tired from being mom + working + .... And yet I still buy books. Can't help myself!
I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle during the first few months after my son was born. I would read while I fed him! That was the only time I had. :)

Tracy said...

Bridgette, after having a baby is the best time to get some reading done! I read so many books while I breastfed my babies. Alas, that was the last good reading time I had and it's been a few years:)