‘Animal, Vegetable, Miracle’ selected for One Community, One Book

“Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year in Food Life” by Barbara Kingsolver, with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver, is the 2009 selection for “One Community, One Book.”

The project promotes insights on human rights in the United States and across the globe and is coordinated by the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights (UICHR) in conjunction with other sponsoring organizations from Johnson County and the UI.

The goal of the project is to encourage people to read and discuss the selected book in order to develop a greater community awareness of human rights issues locally, nationally and internationally.

“Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” tells the story of how Kingsolver and her family for one year deliberately ate food produced in the place where they live. Kingsolver wrote the central narrative, and her husband, Steven Hopp, wrote in-depth sidebars about various aspects of food-production science and industry. Kingsolver’s 19-year-old daughter, Camille, wrote brief essays on the local-food project, plus nutritional information, meal plans and recipes.

“Although this does not sound like our typical human-rights themed book, this book acknowledges that there is a right to adequate food for all humans, that not everyone can afford to make these kinds of food choices and that climate change can diminish the ability to grow food,” said Joan Nashelsky, UICHR project assistant and One Community, One Book co-organizer. “With strong local interest in sustainable agriculture, the effects of climate change on agriculture, the local food movement and the ECO Iowa City grant administered by the Iowa City Public Library and the City of Iowa City Public Works Division, the time seems right for a book with broader human rights issues close to home.”

Nashelsky coordinates the project with volunteer Pat Schnack. ECO Iowa City is a grant-funded initiative to improve environmental sustainability in Iowa City.

Kingsolver’s 12 books of fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction include the novels “The Bean Trees” and “The Poisonwood Bible.” Translated into 19 languages, her work has won a devoted worldwide readership and many awards, including the National Humanities Medal.

Hopp teaches environmental studies at Emory and Henry College and conducts research in bioacoustics and the natural history of vireos, a group of small to medium-sized perching birds.

Camille Kingsolver attends Duke University, where she studies biology, anatomy and dance.

The “One Community, One Book” project will run from mid-September through mid-November. Teachers, students, librarians, book groups and others are encouraged to participate. By announcing the selection now, the project sponsors hope to allow time for groups to read the book and participate in fall community discussion forums, and for teachers to plan classroom discussions around the book.

In addition to UICHR, past project sponsors have included the UI International Writing Program, Prairie Lights Books, the UI Libraries, Iowa City Public Library, Coralville Public Library, North Liberty Community Library, Hancher Auditorium, Hills Bank & Trust Company, Iowa Book LLC, Iowa City Human Rights Commission, Solon Public Library, UI Charter Committee on Human Rights, UI Department of English, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, UI Department of History, UI International Programs and University Book Store. Iowa City High School and West High School have also participated.

For more information, contact UICHR at 319-335-3900 or uichr@uiowa.edu.