Neither would pass muster with the Old Timers (the Grandma's and the Grandpa's) who knew real food. Something was wrong. Very wrong. We just couldn't put our finger on it. These little discoveries along the path led us to some interesting adventures and a big question: What were we going to do?
- I remember those last few conventional strawberries that we ate. They were expensive, out of season and a very long way from home. They were exquisitely beautiful on the outside, seemingly models of perfection. But they were absolutely tasteless. They would have made good plastic food models.
- I remember those last few conventional apples that we ate. They were big and beautiful, a standard color and size. I remember picking them from the beautifully stacked grocery store bin. I had already begun to salivate. I loved apples and wanted a real apple in the worst way. Well, I got an apple in the worst way. By the time I was home and began to eat them, the apples were mealy. Some had even begun to spoil from the inside out. (I discovered that this was a part of how they were developed by growers. Most busy consumers wouldn't take the trouble to return them and would instead just throw them away.)
- I remember those last commercial chickens at the meat cooler that I bought. The yellow fat was a strange color. They quickly spoiled. The last 2 I purchased, I couldn't bare to prepare or eat them, so I threw out. I felt terrible. Those were living beings and I just threw them away.
- I remember those last loaves of bread stacked with preservatives that we bought. They did not spoil. If not eaten in a timely way, food is supposed to spoil. That's one of the fundamental laws of Nature.
- I remember those adventures into conventional restaurants. We were terribly busy during those years so we would often eat out. Over time, I discovered a strange taste in my mouth and sometimes instant digestive issues upon eating out.
My tightly ordered and packed world was coming unraveled. These little experiences provided some very important clues. I began to read everything I could find. Fortunately for us, food mattered a lot. Also fortunately for us, I taught in a related area and I could dig even more deeply into this area. Plus, I found myself surrounded by others who were coming up with their own big questions. And to top it all, we had a local food co-op ("Amazing Grains") where we could purchase organic food from a staff who cared about the produce they provided consumers.
My family and I began to try alternative strategies. After 15 years, our practice has evolved into the following. We consciously choose to eat:
- food from the hands and hearts of local farmers who have similar values,
- foods from local farmers we know by name,
- food we grow ourselves,
- food from beings respectfully treated,
- foods grown on healthy soils where the Earth is treated with respect (that means no synthetic chemicals),
- food without additives whose names we cannot pronounce,
- foods with the least amount of commercial processing (a tomato fresh picked from the Garden or our own preserved Marinara Sauce rather than some commercial label),
- foods from heirloom seeds "Grandma or Grandpa raised",
- food from recipes that are a part of our food heritage,
- foods lovingly prepared,
- foods in season at their peak of freshness (like the Black Raspberries Richard picked this morning),
- foods giving a fair price to growers.
These foods take us back to the rich tastes and loving preparation of our childhoods. The food are vibrant and alive. They are is healthier for the Earth, for all living beings, including us. These little adventures are the very foundation for this Farm and our experience here. We are not going back.
Picture above: Black Raspberry Buckle with Cream