Emory Report
October 1, 2007
Volume 60, Number 6

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October 1, 2007
Kingsolver urges consumers to step up to the plate and eat locally

By Carol Clark

About 17 percent of our nation’s annual energy use, or 400 gallons of oil per citizen, goes into agriculture production and logistics. This figure includes the use of gas-guzzling farm equipment, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, and transportation from the farm gate to your plate: each food item in a typical U.S. meal has traveled an average of 1,500 miles.

Barbara Kingsolver and her husband Steven Hopp cited these and other startling food facts during their recent appearance at Emory, where they discussed their book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.” Kingsolver, a best-selling novelist and essayist, teamed up with Hopp (who teaches environmental studies at Emory and Henry College in Virginia) and her daughter Camille (a student at Duke University) to write the nonfiction paean to sustainable food.

“We’re really happy to be at Emory, specifically because we’re so impressed with the efforts of students, faculty and staff on this campus to engage with your local food economy and with sustainability,” Kingsolver told the crowd that filled Glenn Memorial auditorium. She was referring to the University’s goal for 75 percent of the food served on campus to come from local and/or sustainably-grown sources by 2015.

Kingsolver urged members of the audience to educate themselves about the food chain and make thoughtful choices about how they eat. “Food is one consumer choice we have to make day after day after day,” she said. “So focusing on our food economy is a good entry point to address a whole lot of issues that are upsetting a whole lot of us, in terms of national health crises, in terms of environmental issues, and in terms of corporate control over how we live.”

Sustainable food helps foster a sense of community and develop your taste buds, she added. “It’s wonderful. It’s delicious. It’s fun,” Kingsolver said.