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I had the experience of simultaneously enjoying the book and feeling annoyed by it. I have had a small vegetable garden in my backyard over the years and her book motivated me to expand it by adding asparagus (but now I have to wait 3 years to pick and eat the asparagus I planted! That's okay, I have time). I've done other things, too, like helping with publicity at our local farmers' market and helping implement a few weeks of a sustainability curriculum in the Religious Education program of our church. And I learned a lot from the book--I learned what "heirloom" varieties are, and the concept of the "vegetannual" was great. Like Kingsolver, I am a PhD biologist, and I enjoyed that aspect of the book.

But I still don't cook much, and I cook almost nothing from scratch, ever, because I still hate to cook. Nothing I read in her book changed that; if anything, her descriptions of canning and cooking and the recipes and all that just made me more thankful than ever that I live in an area with a good Trader Joe's nearby. And nothing she wrote about raising your own animals made it sound appealing to actually do, either (as opposed to read about, which was relatively interesting, but mostly because you could put the book down and stop reading if it got too gross.)

I think that "knowing where your food comes from" has the potential to be a double-edged sword. I would never eat meat again if I had to raise and slaughter my own animals. That may not be a bad thing in and of itself, but I've also struggled with not getting enough protein when I didn't eat meat, and have found a strict vegetarian diet to be almost impossible to follow . My kids too are quite thin and just don't eat much in general. They're healthy, but off the bottom end of the BMI scale rather than the top. I find that adding more baggage to my family's food choices makes our lives just too much about procuring, preparing, and eating food, which, to us, is, well . . . boring. We generally eat for fuel, in order to sustain life so that we can do other things that interest us more. We don't eat for comfort, or for love, or as a substitute for something else that might be lacking in our family life. Our family life is rich--just not so much around a dinner table.

In the end I decided that Barbara Kingsolver and I probably wouldn't be friends or even necessarily get along if we ever met, but that doesn't matter. She wouldn't invite me to her dinner parties, and I'd be just as happy, maybe even relieved, not to have to go.