Friday, September 21, 2007

Favorite Female writers; food facts

Favorite female writer of the moment - Barbara Kingsolver. Half of the thousand or so audience members at the Emory talk last night wanted their books signed. I used my old urban stride to make it to the front end of that line and got to speak to her. Here is the scary (not to mention fuzzy) picture that Nicolas took of me, with her husband Steve to the right. I look like the crazed fan that I was, and wish that I had taken a better look in the mirror (did I think to look?) before leaving the house. I did make fairly intelligible sounds towards her, including the fact that Nicolas had grown many of the foods in her dinner that night. She and her husband raved about the arugula.

Now that it has earned Barbara Kingsolver praise, I have to highlight it here:So good on a pastrami sandwich (or in a salad for those who are eating only locally and don't have a local pastrami maker :)

Here's one of the farmer who grew it:He's wearing the cool new shirt that we bought last night from GA Organics (one for me too). It says "I'm a Local" on the front with the GA Organics emblem on the back.

I hope that you get to read Animal, Vegetable, Mineral. If you don't (listen it took me months while it was one of seven must-read books by my bed, and I am that scary fan), then know that you can get great recipes at the web site that I linked. Eating locally is not just a dire, get ready for the end of the world as we know it, gloom-filled fate. It is also a way to get back in touch with healthy food that tastes good and to get to know where your food comes from, or have the satisfaction of growing it yourself. Kingsolver's family decided to eat only locally produced food for a year but she said that they didn't even notice at first when the year was up. In that year they made a paradigm shift that had them appreciating this way of life so much that they are still doing it.

We eat a lot locally but have never gone cold turkey on food that is produced more than 100 miles away. We are talking about some day soon taking on that challenge for a month. Speaking of turkey, she told great stories (she's very funny) about their Bourbon Reds - the same breed that Gillen is raising (down to two couples now, but they're fit and sassy and hanging out as boy/girl pairs).

Local eating doesn't have to be such a huge commitment. As her husband says, "if every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country's oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil EVERY week." He also pointed out that "because most of our food travels 2,000 miles before it reaches our plates.. [it went up 500 miles this past year when we started importing more food than we export] we're consuming 400 gallons of oil a month per citizen...for agriculture." This includes the production of synthetic fertilizers, tractors, packaging and farming machinery. But most of this oil is used "getting the food to our plates".

I got one more statistic from the book and talk last night that I want to share here. "Modern U.S. consumers now get to taste less than one percent of the vegetable varieties that were grown here a century ago. These old timers now lurk only in backyard gardens and on farms that specialize in direct sales - if they survive at all."

Off my soapbox now.

I realized last night that this was the third favorite woman writer that I was lucky enough to hear speak in the past few years. I also got to see Annie Lamott (so funny that I cried) and another amazing but less well known writer, and just as good - Janisse Ray. These three are great at fiction and at more political, personal journaling about our times. I feel so inspired by all of them.


kelli said...

I don't know how long I could do the local thing...especially in the winter *cry*

Good bye fresh produce for me :( for at least 6 months, ugh...ah I see, another reason to move :)

Sara said...

How fun that you got a picture with her! And that you actually conversed with her...haha. Being organic farmers you had much more to say, and what a treat that they ate and commented on your food! Glad it was fun.

AnneO said...

SO awesome that you got to meet Barbara. My love affair with her began, also, with Bean Trees...and I absolutely LOVE and have recommended a thousand times *Animal Vegetable Miracle*. She inspires me to be a better writer.

Have you read *Eat Pray Love* yet (remember I recommended it before the wine?)? Put it on your list for your NEXT read!

Aunt Boonya said...

I just heard about your blog at the farmer's market this morning, so I thought I'd check it out. I was amazed when the first thing I saw was an article about Barbara Kingsolver. My husband and I are both reading books by her right now (him - Bean Trees, me - Animal Dreams). She is one of my favorite authors as well.

BTW, I cooked the small sweet potatos just like you said and they are amazing, I can't stop eating them, so I don't think I'll be able to save any for later in the week. Now I have to wait till next Saturday for more.

Gotta run, the are squash waiting to be stuffed.

Kimba said...

Ah, there is nothing more satisfying that meeting a favorite author in person (providing they don't turn out to be ... insert insulting word here).

I've geeked over Neil Gaiman, Nikki Giovanni, Anne Rice, Jimmy Carter and others (it helps to work in bookstores ;). I'm so glad the experience was as wonderful as it sounds!

Kimba said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kimba said...

Oh, and now I have to read "Animal Vegetable Mineral"!

Danielle said...

Ooooh, what a cute farmer with his crazed-fan wife! Of course, I had to click on the photo of Nicolas and spend more time checking out the tunnel, the trellises and the row covers than anything else. ;)

Madeline said...

Kelli, we are talking a lot about how hard it's going to be to do the only local thing. Yes, without having put up food ahead of time, MN would be prohibitive! I haven't put up enough food here, even with a farm. Bad farmer's wife this summer. I'm regretting it already.

"Aunt Boonya" - I am so glad that you like the sweet potatoes!

That picture of N, that you clicked on Danielle, is so grainy and I'm embarassed about it. My sister put me straight about how I blew it. You'll just have to come see the tunnels in person. : )

Jessica said...

That is so cool. I had my won crazed fan moment with Alice Hoffman this winter. How fun. I love reading about the cool farm stuff, as I am surrounded by pretty sandy soil that's great for beach plum jelly and not much else at this point...