Review: The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball

dirty lifeThe Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball is the true story of a journalist from NYC who runs away with a farmer to start their own CSA. That’s it, in a nutshell.

But it is SO much more than that!! It is the book I cannot shut up about. The book that has inspired me to do the following:

1. Compost (more like: commence the process of convincing my husband we should compost…which will take a couple of growing seasons)
2. Garden. I do not have a green thumb, but that hasn’t kept me from checking out 6 books on the topic and not-so-subtly putting them under my husband’s iPad, in hopes that he will get the hint and plant the foods I’d like to eat.
3. Corner my part-time-farmer/part-time-Page employee at work to discuss the best things to grow in Virginia in late-Spring because we didn’t plan earlier.
4. Check out more books and documentaries on sustainable living and healthy eating than can fit in my passenger seat.
5. Go in on the purchase of an organic cow with my family (slaughtered and quartered…I’m not raising a cow folks, despite my deep desire to own a Jersey cow for her milk).

The beginning of the book reads like a tentative romance (without the mushy and sexy stuff). They fall for each other so honestly yet slowly, it just seems right when they make all the big moves. Mark cooks meals for her that rival the most expensive NYC restaurants, and her descriptions of the foods make me fall in love with him, too. She seamlessly combines her love for Mark with her love for the food and the new lifestyle.

And there was something else about it, something more primal, a kind of craving, my body yelling, EAT THAT, I NEED IT. That was my first hint that there’s a wisdom to the appetite, that if you clear out the white noise of processed food and listen, healthy and delicious are actually allies.

It’s lines like that which prove she is a true convert to the clean life. And lucky for her, all she has to do is go outside to catch, cut down, or grab from the cellar the items to cook the clean, healthy, incredibly tasty foods our bodies crave and need. I loved reading the descriptions of her realization that her shoulders were growing broad and strong, because that – to me, at least – is so attractive. Muscle and strength based on your job/lifestyle is so much more “earned” in  my mind than when they’re based on weights in a gym. (Unfortunately, I am said gym girl, because I do not work on a farm. But someday…)

Kimball also discusses her move to the country life. She mentions the lack of noise and light pollution that exists in the city…something I personally crave. She attends a county fair with a fellow uptown girl who revel in the country life. She wrote of the derby car rally:

There were twelve cars per heat. They roared onto the track like motorized lions, like mechanical testosterone, an American bullfight.

I enjoyed her writing for the most part, except when she merely listed all of the vegetables in a recipe, or types of weeds, or cows. The story of her wedding coming together with the help of a few dozen friends was hilarious yet charming.

Recommended for: 
Anyone interested in narrative non-fiction. This is a very read-able book with interesting facts about dairy cows, draft horses, and farming. You will definitely learn something from this book.

I can’t really tell you what it’s like because I haven’t read any book on farming at all. Ever. So, the most I can liken it to is Eat, Pray, Love because a woman finds herself in a land other than the one she knows, and at one point she desperately fights what she is feeling…all the while knowing it’s the best thing for her. But that’s where the comparison ends.

The documentaries and books I’ve checked out after reading this include:
Hungry for Change wasn’t as eye-opening for me as it was for my husband, who had no idea what diet soda and low-fat diets did to a person. (Kills brain cells and turns the low-fat product into sugar, which creates fat cells…just sayin’…).

Get Started Growing Vegetables is illustrated!! It is dummy-proof gardening.

Eat Greens: seasonal recipes to enjoy in abundance has some great recipes for cooking the vegetables you grew using the book mentioned above.


Happy (clean) eating!

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