“Eating is an agricultural act.”
~ Wendell Berry
Since writing Food Insecurity, my mind has been on backyard farming.
I’ve always been a gardener.
I’ve always liked to cook.
Why have I not combined those two things before?
There are plenty of Groovy Backyard Farmers out there, but I’m at the beginning of this road.
Of course it is my backward way to begin while the temperatures plummet and winter steps onto the dance floor in my Zone 6. As Food Insecurity was published I was harvesting the last of the tomatoes, peppers and beans.
I’m forever beginning at the end of things.
But the advantage of being at the beginning of any given road while paying attention and looking around is that you notice the rudiments of things. The underpinnings.
And underpinnings are important. They build the foundation for the health and stability of what is to come. Because of the time of year that I begin, my underpinnings of being a Groovy Backyard Farmer will begin at the end: in the kitchen.
Here are some of the rudiments that I’ve noticed:
Thing One: Eating Oftentimes Requires Cooking
This seems like a no-brainer, but I assure you it’s not. I live in the middling of the most middle states. It can’t get much more agrarian around here. Yet, as single career girls, my roommate and I often scarf down pre-packaged or restaurant foods without a thought. Spending time with friends necessarily means meeting them at a restaurant or pub, because who has time to clean for company?
When I was little (think late 70s, early 80s), we ate out once a month. We were allowed to have potato chips and ‘pop’ only on Hamburger Saturday Nights. And this was the norm.
Having realized that eating oftentimes requires cooking, I have sensed a shift in my heart. As I chop veg and sauté things in my trusty pan (low and slow, low and slow…), I feel a softening occurring where my fast-paced hardness usually is. Spending time with my food for more than five minutes before I eat it has caused me to slow down, to breathe.
I feel affection for the food and those that I am cooking it for; even if that person is only me.
I notice texture and flavor. I am actively aware that I am putting nutrients in my body and am concerned about eating nourishing things.
I use spices. There are now things I cook at home that I know will be more flavorful and delicious than if I had ordered them out. Triumph!
Thing Two: The Revolutionary Practice of Eating What is Already at Home
Recently, a friend mentioned that even when we are dedicated to cooking a meal at home we tend to begin with a recipe and then procure the ingredients that we need. Rarely do we look at what we have around the house and build a meal from that. (Or are we the only ones?)
Out of economy, my roommate and I have started to not only cook at home, but to use ingredients that are already here. It has been a revelation. First, I notice how very much we do have on hand. We have been blessed by a pantry that is not by any means bare. The ingredients might seem unrelated at first, but that is where the creativity begins.
When I look at available ingredients, often a recipe comes to mind. But when it doesn’t, I love to put what seems like the technology of excess to the use of simplification. I think of different ingredients that might seem to go well together, and I use the ingredients as Google search terms. Voila! So many delightful recipes abound.
Sometimes the act of staying home is revolutionary. Eating what is already there is one of the coziest feelings imaginable. It feeds not just my body but also my soul with creativity and restfulness and my peace of mind with the economy of the practice.
The great thing about the agrarian world is that it is a yearly cycle. We can jump in anytime.
I’m glad that my transformation to Groovy Backyard Farmer has necessarily begun with the end in mind. Because that is the realization that I am hoping to cement into myself, the wisdom that was lost from former generations; that eating truly is an agricultural act.
I wish for you flavorful economy, cozy creativity and nourishing restfulness.
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Assist Editor: Sanja Cloete-Jones/Editor: Bryonie Wise