Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a miracle in and of itself. In this amazing book, Barbara Kingsolver describes her family's decision to move permanently onto a farm, and their year-long vow to only eat what their farm or a neighboring farm in their county produces. It is honestly changing my life. The book is all about getting back to nature, becoming local, learning to love what comes out of the ground we are standing on. Reading this book coincides with construction on our house that has temporarily resulted in the gas being turned off, which means we can not cook. This is partly disastrous, because every chapter of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle contains an amazing recipe that leaves me salivating and my fingers itching to start some deliciously messy culinary project, like Frijole Mole or Basil Blackberry Crumble. HOWEVER, having no gas is a huge learning lesson on how much waste I produce with un-local cooking, and it is a good learning lesson while reading this book, allowing me to understand the impact of my eating, and encouraging me to change my evil ways (I can hear Santana chiding me) when the gas gets turned back on (please let that day be today...). For example, when we had gas (oh such a beautiful time), I would buy tons and tons of unlocal food--such as can upon can of vegetable, and bags of sugar. Although cans can be recyled, that still wastes energy (not to mention Argentina may or may not have a recyling program) in the process, and can totally be avoided with buying fresh produce. Because of not being able to cook, Nick and I have eaten primarily fresh veggies and fresh bread for the past two weeks. We have gotten almost all of our bread the day of eating it from the baker around the corner (and oh my goodness is it amazing), and with the exception of chickpeas, we have gotten all of our produce from the fruit and vegetable stands that dot every corner here. Our meals have consisted of fresh baguettes drizzled with olive oil, topped with fresh basil leaves, slices of tomato, and layers of cheese; salads made from zuccini, lemon, garlic, tomato, and these tiny green adorable pumpkins; fruit salads with fresh honeydue, bananas, and oranges; and for dessert, fresh ice cream from the heladeria or pastries from the baker. (And of course, everything is always topped off with Argentine wine!!) Although I am dying to turn on the stove and whip up some concoction, these past two weeks have been healthy, fresh, and delicious. Moreover, we have taken out the trash about twice a week, compared with the everyday we were taking out the trash when our gas worked!!! So, we have taken a vow to keep away from cans and stick with fresh bread when the oven comes back on...And, of course, I always have to carry it one step too far, and I have made Nick promise that in ten years, we will be living on a farm. Okay, just had to throw that little addition in there!!!
Here are some pics of the delicious treats we've been devouring:
And here is some random handsome hunk that showed up for dinner:
Something is in the air, because as soon as I mention this book to someone, I get a comment right away about how this book has already changed their lives. (I am behind on the times I guess!!) For example, my friend Laura, my hero and role model, who works for the Service Learning program at Ripon College in Ripon, WI, already founded a program at her college called the Local Food Project . This project is seeking to use social media to educate the Ripon community about the benefits of buying local food. And, it was all inspired by Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I told my friend Beth I was reading this book (another hero and role model!!), and she told me that she and her boyfriend have begun to compost and plot a veggie garden because of this book. Moreover, her mom converted all their garden space at home to plant organic produce!! I couldn't believe all the CHANGE this one book is inspiring!!! It is so unbelievable and inspirational!! It seems that Barbara Kingsolver is indeed the hero of the day. THANK YOU, BARBARA!!!!
Oh my goodness, and there are more miracles...Yesterday it rained all day, sometimes in hurricane sheets, and it washed away the heat...Yes, today is sunny, breezy, mild, and BEAUTIFUL!!! It is making me love life...Yes our house has four leaks and was dotted with four pots collecting rainwater last night, but who cares?! Nothing beats falling asleep with the sound of rain pitter-pattering and then waking up to a day that would make even the biggest grouch an optimist! Leak all you want if this is the outcome!! (Okay, maybe not all you want...)
And a final miracle...Nick and I are working away for Enchanting Challenge, blogging our hearts out, and helping to coordinate 4 service trips!! We are honestly so excited. This is the first time that we feel like our personal and professional lives are in sync with each other, both from our heart, and we are honestly so dedicated and devoted to this project. We are also so, so blessed because so many friends have bent over backwards for us. Maira has begun to network her family friends for people who can help us with our service trips to Mexico; Laura has circulated flyers all around the Ripon campus about our service trips; Caitlin is preparing for a six-week Enchanting Challenge internship and finding resources up the wazoo for us to use; my dad is helping Nick get in contact with social entrepreneurs to interview for his blog; Hira is thinking about perhaps coming to join us for a service trip, and so much more!!!!! We are so, so blessed...It is as if we knocked on a door, and a hundred people answered. Thank you so much to everyone who has helped...It means the whole world to us!
Here's a tiny bit of background on the service trips: they are sponsored by Enchanting Challenge and work with partnerships with local foundations and eco-hotels in the service trip destination. We have four on the dockets now. The first one takes place in March and April in Tulum, Mexico. It is a six-day trip for university students to stay in an ecologically-friendly resort and work during the day on reforestation projects in the rainforest with the Mayan community, learning lessons on sustainable living along the way. The second one takes place in August in the Mendoza province in western Argentina. This service trip will include one week working with disadvantaged families in the city of Mendoza, and one week working with community development with the indigeneous community in the neighboring Desierto Lavalle. For that project, we are working with a wonderful group that has been running this service project for ten years. Previously, they have only worked with Argentines, so this is the first time US travelers and university students are encouraged to come!! Nick and I will be the contact people for any North American and/or UK volunteers for this service trip. Moreover, we will be spending the month of August in Mendoza and hopefully working with the organization to coordinate everything. And, we get to go on the service trip ourselves!!!! If you are interested in seeing pictures of the past service trips to the Desierto Lavalle, click here.
The third service trip will take place in October in Puerto Madryn, Argentina, working with the wildlife there, and the fifth trip will probably take place next winter in Patagonia, Chile, working with an organic farm endeavor and reforestation. So we are busy!! But determined, excited, and beyond grateful...