Dear Reader News Article

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Here’s something to think about: “The 2006 “Broccoli report” showed that broccoli produced in Sweden led to 60% less greenhouse emissions than imported broccoli. And 99% of all broccoli that is consumed in Sweden is imported, with Spain and and Ecuador as major exporters. Interestingly enough, transporting the broccoli from Ecuador produced about 40% of the greenhouse gas emissions of transporting Spanish broccoli even though the broccoli from Ecuador is transported 12,000 km compared to 3,200 km for Spanish broccoli. Ecuador’s broccoli is shipped by boat to Rotterdam, by feeder boat to Gothenburg, Sweden, and then by truck to Stockholm. Spanish broccoli travels by truck the entire way.
The report also calculates the economic costs of broccoli from different sources. Switching entirely to Swedish-produced broccoli would cost more than twice as much as the current mix of 1% Swedish, 33% Spanish, and 66% Ecuadorian and Guatemalan.” [1]
Last evening my husband and I attended a sold out book signing in Cambridge, Massachusetts, starring Barbara Kingsolver, her daughter Camille and the new book she has written with her husband, Steven, and Camille. The book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle[2] is the true story of the family eating only locally around their farm for a year. The book jacket says “This is the story of a year in which we made every attempt to feed ourselves animals and vegetables whose provenance we really knew…and of how our family was changed by our first year of deliberately eating food produced from the same place where we worked, went to school, loved our neighbors, drank the water, and breathed the air.” The book, is the true story of the family eating only locally around their farm for a year.
The book is also full of well researched facts about agriculture and animals and commentary on how unsustainable our system of food production, transportation and consumption really is. Barbara is a skilled and funny writer and reader – the plot around turkey sexuality and reproduction is dramatic and riveting. Her core messages – we’ve got to do something about the way we eat because the way we eat defines much of our life. I highly recommend this wonderful book.
I grew up in a small town in Northwestern Massachusetts. My family was into food. My grandfather ran a bakery that distributed baked goods around and beyond the town, right to people’s houses. Later, my father purchased the bakery and serviced local hospitals, schools and a bustling retail store in which I worked from my early teens. My father also grew organic vegetables, which my mother, my sisters and I put away in freezers or in jars. This wholesome, somewhat isolated life was not completely appreciated by me as a teenager. But much later I can see that, as a society, there are value decisions we can and must make, and those old habits seem pretty smart.. .
Barbara’s experiment is one of many attempts around the world to define a “new” and more sustainable consumption pattern that in some ways might resemble something very old. Some of these alternatives might be downright pleasant.
[1] The Energy Report, Stockholm Consumers’ Association, 2006
[2] HarperCollins, 2007