Here are the discussion questions for chapters 13 through 16:
Chapter 13 - Life in a Red State: Aaaah. Tomatoes. There's just no comparison between home-grown or in-season farmer's market tomatoes and those anemic, mealy orbs sold in the grocery stores year round. Here in Seattle we get "hot house" tomatoes that are supposedly grown in Vancouver, B.C. (huh?). Rumor has it they come from Mexico. They are slightly better than the standard beefsteak, but I've decided it just isn't worth it to buy them out of season. But I digress.
Our tomato plants were hit and miss this year due to the cool summer. The majority of our tomatoes were green and never did ripen. Next year I'll try ripening them inside, but I did manage to pull about 15 lbs of green tomatoes this year.
Did you grow tomatoes this year? How did they turn out? If not, will you consider growing them yourself now that you've read this chapter?
If you grew tomatoes did you do any canning or freezing to capture the bounty for consumption the rest of the year? Even if you don't grow them yourself would you think about buying a load from the farmer's market next year and canning your own tomatoes?
Have you ever had a canning party? Would you consider organizing one next year?
Chapter 14 - You Can't Run Away on Harvest Day: This chapter discusses a different kind of harvest. One that involves dispatching (my homesteading uncle's term) raised animals for consumption. For Kingsolver and her family this means chickens. She brings up a good point for those critical of raising animals for meat:
... animals raised on open pasture are the traditional winter fare..., and they serve us well here in the months it would cost a lot of fossil fuels to keep us in tofu. Should I overlook the suffering of victims of hurricanes, famines, and wars brought on this world by profligate fuel consumption? Bananas that cost a rain forest, refrigerator-trucked soy milk, and prewashed spinach shipped two thousand miles in plastic containers do not seem cruelty-free...
The point is, it's easy to malign raising animals as a food source to consume during the months when vegetation is slim. And it's easy to sit back and feel self-righteous whilst hoarking down loads of vegetarian fare that may have more of an environmental impact than low-impact raised meats. What do you think about this argument?
Do you raise animals for meat? Would you ever consider doing so? Did reading this chapter at all influence your opinion?
Chapter 15 - Where Fish Wear Crowns: Kingsolver discusses, in detail, her trip to Italy and how the food culture there influenced every part of her travels from the lengthy meals to the Italian's love of food. Granted, her trip had more of a food oriented bent to it, but I think most people travel to Italy with food on their minds. It's one of those destinations where food is just as much part of the reason for going as seeing the sights.
What's your favorite food-oriented destination and why?
Chapter 16 - Smashing Pumpkins: October brings in the pumpkin harvest and the planting of garlic. By now, your potatoes have been dug and stored along with the onions and other end of season storables. If you grew them, of course.
Were any of these grown in your garden this year? Will you be growing them next year?
Feel free to add your own discussion questions pertaining to these chapters in the comments as well!