BOOK: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver (Harper Perennial paperback, 2008), best known for her novels The Poisonwood Bible and The Bean Trees. She co-wrote this book with her husband, Steven L. Hopp, and daughter, Camille Kingsolver.
WHY READ? In the spirit of The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food, both by Michael Pollan, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle translates the weighty issue of food politics into personal experience. Kingsolver describes her family's effort to live on a farm, grow as much of their own food as possible, and eat locally grown produce. The result is a diet both virtuous and delicious that teaches the family how food can foster comfort and companionship as it provides the body with calories. For members of a book club reading this memoir, a thoughtful snack could serve as an eloquent commentary on the contents.
MAKE IT: Kingsolver doesn't just talk about food; she tries to share it with her readers by providing tantalizing recipes that demonstrate the freshness, the flavor and the pleasure of the locally grown. To find out what's in season near you, visit the Natural Resources Defense Council Web site at www.nrdc.org/health/foodmiles/default.asp.
Select "Florida," and "late August," for example, and you'll find a list containing mangoes and limes, which are used in the accompanying recipe for Mango Corn Salsa, as well as carambola, atemoya and several other fruits and vegetables in season. This isn't high agriculture season in Florida; in fact, it's sort of like winter up north. Your book club may want to save this book for early next year, when strawberries and other local produce are in season.
To find a nearby farmers' market, and get recipes from chefs who specialize in Florida foods, visit www.fl-ag.com and click on "consumers."
Tom Valeo, special to the Times
Read & Feed is a monthly column in Taste that matches popular book club selections with food to serve at meetings. If you have suggestions or would like to share what your book club is cooking up, contact us at email@example.com and put BOOK FOOD in the subject line.