Steingraber and Kingsolver wrote about their relationship with the natural world and described the places they preferred to live at. Steingraber traced the biological link man has with nature while Kingsolver explained the cultural and spiritual bond of human beings with the environment. In Steingraber’s essay she talked about the place her family moved to which provides an opportunity for her daughter to explore the trees and plants, and observe the animals that roam about in this rural community in Ithaca. Meanwhile, Kingsolver expressed awe and wonder of her favorite places, one is a log cabin in the Appalachian mountains and the other is a house made from “sun-baked mud” (Kingsolver, 941) located in the bosque of the Southwest. Steingraber’s account of her natural surroundings was a backdrop to her exposition about dioxin and the contaminants in breastmilk.
She ends her essay with the words “and then we feed our babies” (938). She emphasized that infants nursing from the breast are the recipients of the most concentrated contaminants because of the process of biomagnifications. “The hard fact of biomagnifications means that breastfed babies have greater dietary exposures to toxic chemicals than their parents” (Steingraber,932). She talks about how toxins, such as dioxin, enters our bodies. It is a scientific fact that “matter can neither be created nor destroyed” (930). Therefore, as toxins travel upwards the food chain, it becomes more concentrated. Compared with the rest, man has the highest concentration of contaminants in their bodies, and this is magnified in breast milk, in the stuff we feed our babies. In contrast, Kingsolver focused on the benefits of being in close contact with the natural environment. She considers it “a privilege to live any part of one’s life in proximity to nature” (Kingsolver, 945). She feels that the landscape, the animals, trees, and mountains provide more than physical products and she expresses her respect towards these resources.
“I have my ostensible claim, but the truth is, these places own me..they hold my history, my passions, and my capacity for honest work” (944). The power of nature and its capacity to provide for the needs of mankind is recognized by Kingsolver in her ending statement that goes “we can get shaken right down to the bone by the bronzed-eyed possibility of lives that are not our own” (947).
Kingsolver, Barbara. “Knowing our Place.” American Earth: Environmental writing since Thoreau, Vol 182. Ed. Bill McKibben and Albert Gore. USA: Literary Classics of the United States, 2008. pp. 938-947.
Steingraber, Sandra. “Having Faith.” American Earth: Environmental writing since Thoreau, Vol 182. Ed. Bill McKibben and Albert Gore. USA: Literary Classics of the United States, 2008. pp.929-938.