Monday, September 08, 2008

A week about preserving the harvest: why we do what we do

Heirloom tomato fresh from the garden
Over the past year I’ve been reading books about food, our food chain, including books like Plenty, Animal Vegetable Miracle and the writings of Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser. And it was Animal Vegetable Miracle that laid out what could be possible. It was the clincher.

In the book, Barbara Kingsolver and her family reconnect to their roots by moving to a small farm in the Appalachian mountains. They connect to the farmers and to farming life, and resolve to grow much of their own food over the course of a year. It. Is. Intense. And in no way do I believe I’ve come even close to ever doing this. Not even close. However. It made me think.

The questions of where our food comes from and what we’re doing about it continue to loom. And for me, the question is what can I do about it? Not through my work with clients and their work, which is what I’ve done for years, but through my own personal actions? My choices? My way of living? How I eat?

Eating local is a political statement. A personal statement. An environmental statement. An exploration of what is possible. About thinking what you’re putting in your mouth and where you're putting your money. What’s easiest and the quickest in modern U.S. society does not mean what’s healthiest. And the impact on small farmers, and our ability to support them and to make conscientious choices of buying directly from them, is possible through farmers markets and farm visits. Especially here in the Portland area.

What if you were to really stop and get in touch with where your food comes from? What if you were to grow it yourself? Or to at least know the farms it comes from? Or even just make a point to go to the farms yourself and harvest it? This variety of closeness to your food is negotiable: what’s right for me may not be right for you. But what if you were to apply yourself to figuring that out and what possibilities are there for you? Have you read the ingredients on labels of mainstream foods in your major supermarkets? Can you pronounce all of the words on there? Have you noticed how corn syrup shows up on almost everything?*

Over the last year, we’ve tried to get closer to our food. A little bit. AdRi and I have been picking, growing, preserving and harvesting. We've been following the crops seasons, what farms are producing what and when, and resources are out there to connect us in the city to the producers all around us. And I thought this week I’d explore that here on my blog, the why, the how, and my exploration into preserving the food that comes into harvest this time of year. Memories of my mom canning, and memories of other women in my family and preservation. Let’s see where it goes. It’s been a steep learning curve but it’s rewarding and interesting.

And I keep thinking about the look on the woman’s face at BlogHer when I answered her question to “What do you blog about?” And I answered “canning”! The bewildered and puzzled look on her face said it all. Some people get it. Some people don’t. And I’m just figuring it all out as I go.

*Don’t get me started on trying to find hamburger buns without corn syrup—but know that you can get them from the wonderful Dave’s Killer Bread outlet shop in Milwaukie.


Anonymous said...

Yay! I'm really looking forward to the rest of your posts this week.

Lylah Ledner said...

I'm absolutely looking forward to these posts. We did a spring garden: and now it's just brown dirt and I bough heirloom seeds and am just waiting for the dirty to not be so hot. I don't know what I'm such a beginner and I'm looking forward to learning. Can't wait. Thanks...lylah

Anonymous said...

You can grow so many edible green leaves in a small space - everyone should have a go

Lisa said...

I like your thought that eating local is an exploration of what is possible. I also love books by Barbara Kingsolver. Sounds like an interesting week!

Magpie Ima said...

Hey there--I know I am a year behind here, but I just recently found your blog and wanted to let you know how much I enjoy it and how I loved this post in particular.