Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Get Personal With Your Food

Listen to this while you read this...it's what I was listening to as I wrote it!

Yesterday I was listening to an interview on NPR (yes, I listen to NPR.  Quite a lot.  Another one of those things that GCCRs* are not supposed to do).  They were talking with a lady who is passionate about teaching people how to grow their own vegetables.  Sorry--I didn't catch her name!  She said something to the effect of, "How to grow your own food should be common knowledge; something parents teach their children along with things like learning how to swim.  I have never been in a situation where I was in water over my head and afraid of drowning.  But I have been so low on cash that if I hadn't known how to grow my own food, I would not have had anything to eat.  It's far more likely for most people to have a financial crisis than to be in danger of drowning."  She wasn't saying that everyone should go out and become master gardeners...only that the knowledge of how to do it should be given a higher priority in our culture.

This got me thinking about what happens in our attitude towards our food when obtaining it gets "personal".  I already find myself placing a higher value on what I eat after experiencing the amount of effort it takes to get it from the field to my stomach.  Moving a chicken pen every day, although enjoyable, is pretty hard work.  Our cows plow through impressive amounts of grass every day to get to the size we want them to be to make great steaks.  Our neighbor, Rose, is in her garden every day with her garlic, veggies, and herbs before she takes them to the market.  When I realize what it takes to produce good, fresh food, I take a lot more care with how I prepare it.  I want it to taste its very best...I don't want to embarrass it--haha!

Now, I'm not knocking grocery stores because grocery stores are obviously important!  But when I buy meat there, all precut and shrinkwrapped, I'm not thinking about the farm or the animal it came from.  And I could buy virtually unlimited amounts of any particular cut if I wanted to.  If I take my New York Strip steaks home, cook them, and don't like how they turn out, I can just go back to the store and get more to try it again.  All I'm really out is the cash to buy them.  Did you know that one steer doesn't produce an unlimited proportion of New York Strips?  When our beef cows are done, we will have limited amounts of each cut and we'll be planning meals accordingly.  When it comes time for me to cook that filet mignon, you can bet I'll really be thinking it through first!

All of this is to say...try getting personal with your food, to whatever extent you are able.  Go to the farmer's market and actually talk to the producers!  Get to know them a little bit!  Find out why they do what they do...chances are they're pretty passionate about it.  If possible, visit their farms.  Stop by The Family Farm while you're at it!  Take a walk with us while we move the cows and chickens.  Or best of all, turn a little corner of your yard into a garden and experiment.  Some things will work, some won't, but I'll bet that you'll have a new appreciation for your food if you give it a try.

*Good Conservative Christian Republicans