The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love, Kristin Kimball

I have a friend who says that food – real food – should be dirty and bloody. That’s insider code for fresh and clean and near to the earth. I’m sure Kimball would agree. In The Dirty Life, she writes about love and dirt and farming, to be sure, but the book is deeper and explores ideas about success, and commitment, and simplicity. That’s the part I like.

Kimball writes in a comfortable prose though her Ivy League education peeks through at times. Other reviewers note some oddities that I can’t argue with. She converts from being a long-time vegetarian eating meat in a single night, helping her boyfriend kill a deer and then romantically feasting on its liver. Well, it’s presented as romantic, but you decide. Her commitments waver. There is a feeling throughout the book that she tip-toes through this new adventure like an adrenaline junkie would: the commitment lasts as long as the feeling does. Even as the book reaches its climax, her marriage and the reaping of their first harvest, she runs off to Hawaii just in time to let her husband harvest the crop by himself.

But, it’s these inconsistencies that make the book more human and universal, and I applaud her for including them. The book isn’t about farming or living a simple life – there are much better books about those things: it’s about the struggle to work hard and stay committed to something you choose. It’s about growing into who you want to be. I like, too, that Kimball comes at the entire endeavor as doe-eyed as a Disney princess. An excellent read. Highly recommended. If you are interested in Slow Philosophy this will be a good read for you.

Purchase here on Amazon
See Kristin Kimball here on NPR
See the book here on Goodreads
Go here for her newest book on Goodreads


Thanks for reading. Sign up for updates, newsletters, and freebies when the popup pops up. Otherwise, you can sign up anytime at the top of any page. Click any of the buttons below to share on your favorite social site. Thanks, and I hope you comment. Do you find a nice freshly-killed slice of liver to be romantic?


I haven’t read Kimball’s newest but it’s on my TBR list. Along with a couple thousand other books.