Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle gives ways to improve your health and the environment by learning how to garden, cook, and eat more fruits and vegetables.

Read in: 4 minutes

Favorite quote from the author:

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Summary

Where did your last home-cooked meal come from? If you’re like most people, it probably came from the supermarket. But do you ever stop to think about where stores get their food? 

Most people don’t. This disconnection from the source of the food we consume has allowed for some pretty unhealthy and unethical things to happen to our food, which is now mostly mass-produced.

It’s a lot to think about. And you’re probably wondering what you can do about it. Sure, you can buy organic, but what if you could know the source of your food? Or better yet, what if your garden could be that source?

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver tells the story of her own family who decided to dramatically change their lives by only eating locally and growing their own food for a year. They packed up their belongings and moved from Arizona to Appalachia to start learning to grow their own food.

Kingsolver encourages all of us, even if we can’t grow everything we eat, to start doing what we can to source our own food. 

Here are the 3 most useful lessons I got from reading this book:

  1. The food industry makes us disconnect with our food and forget what real food is.
  2. Start preparing early in spring and work hard for good food in summer.
  3. Autumn is time for harvesting animals and preparing for winter by storing food.

Are you ready to dive in and learn what it takes to grow your own food? Let’s learn!

If you want to save this summary for later, download the free PDF and read it whenever you want.

Download PDF

Lesson 1: We have forgotten what real food is because of the food industry.

Most of us have lived in the city for so long we don’t actually know a lot about food creation. A lot of our foods have additives we can’t pronounce, or are genetically modified. For the most part, we don’t even think about local farmers.

This doesn’t mean we don’t want to eat locally or make sure our food is clean, sometimes we just make the easier choice. Supermarkets have all the food we need, all in one place, and at a cheap price. Often we forget about the effect this has. 

“Factory farms” have been exposed for their horrific treatment of animals, yet when we see the more expensive price of the organic meat, we choose to keep buying meat that comes from these sources. The reason organic meats are more expensive is simple: these animals were treated and fed better.

You’ve also probably heard about genetically modified food or GMOs. These are plants that are genetically modified to increase production. Maybe you’d like to avoid them, but you are probably eating them unknowingly since they are widely used and not required to be labeled as such.

Lesson 2: If we start early in the spring and are diligent, we can have a plentiful summer harvest.

If you’re ready for better tasting, healthier, and more environmentally friendly food, it’s time to start growing it yourself. Kingsolver gives a plan that will help you have your own veggies all year long. March is the time to start planting. You can start indoors if it’s too cold to plant outside and transplant them later. 

If you start potatoes early, by April they can be ready to harvest. Spring is a great time to plant onions, peas, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, kale, and more. Use these to take advantage of fresh spring salads. 

She does understand that not everyone has the space for a huge garden. But, for example, if you live in the city, you can use a balcony as a place to plant vegetables and herbs to add to your plate. She believes all of it have it within us a desire to grow and cultivate our own food as our ancestors once did.

If you worked hard in the spring, summer is the time to enjoy your hard work. Summer fruits and veggies include zucchini, crookneck squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes. 

Growing your own food is a great way to encourage you to prepare your own meals, which will help you be healthier and save money. Cooking your own food can be therapeutic and forces you to think more about what you’re putting into your body.

Lesson 3: Autumn is the time for meat and preparing for winter.

Something that was a little harder for Kingsolver and her family to do was harvesting their animals come fall. t can be a pretty controversial process, but she talks about how it can be done with respect. 

Harvesting an animal implies respect because it requires planning and making the animal’s life as good as possible before it’s slaughtered.

It can also be done in ways that avoid fear and pain. She tells the story of slaughtering their chicken by first holding it upside-down so it fell asleep and then gently placed its head against the block and quickly and cleanly decapitated it.

This process usually happens in the Fall, which is also a time for potatoes, squash, and pumpkin.

You can store all of these in cool places for winter. She recommends making sure you stock your freezer with meat and fats, especially fish and nuts. Your body and mind need these nutrients, especially during winter. You can easily freeze zucchini, broccoli, and other greens.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Review

I really like the idea behind Animal, Vegetable, Miracle! I’ve always enjoyed fruits and vegetables, and my family has a history of farming, so I can really appreciate all of these lessons. We should all take whatever we can learn from this book and try it to improve our health and the environment!

Who would I recommend the Animal, Vegetable, Miracle summary to?

The 56-year-old who is tired of taking so many prescriptions that would like to eat healthier, the 27-year-old who doesn’t want to end up overweight and lethargic all the time like so many of their friends, and anyone who wants to discover the fascinating world of gardening and cooking.

Last Updated on August 30, 2022

Rate this book!
This book has an average rating of 4.5 based on 2 votes.

Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.