Green Tip # 14: Get Involved With Your Food

Knowing where your food comes from is a complex and worthwhile topic that deserves more smarts and coherence then I can sustain this evening! It’s too humid to do anything but eat pumpkin ice cream sundaes for dinner (oh have I got a recipe for you guys!) and thank the lord you’re not out in the fields, in LONG SLEEVES. every day harvesting rice – like I did on Sunday. Granted, this was a special community event, because farmers here are much too smart to harvest anything during the daytime heat & humidity that persists til well after the end of harvest season. I’m not sure when farming became slightly scorned as a profession, because the farmers I know are some of the happiest, most vibrant, connected, intelligible, respect-worthy people.

While my brain may be a melted puddle of gray matter, I think the core of respecting yourself and your relationship with the environment you live in – connected with fellow humans and the earth – is getting involved with your food. Experiencing the growth and harvest of food, the backbending, the bug-fighting, the weather-watching, establishes a strong respect that can not be cultivated in the grocery store.

When you simply buy things shrink-wrapped from a grocery store, you don’t get to learn a new skill:

Chopping, tying, and hanging rice to dry

In a grocery store, you can’t frolic in nature,

no one lets you play with mini-scythes:

you don’t get to experience the simple beauty of food,

there’s no satisfaction from a hard day’s work,

rice must be dried for a week before being hulled

in a grocery store, you aren’t humbled by the beauty of nature & the wonders of the earth:

Also, food tastes so much better when you are super hungry, tired, and you know you’ve earned it.

So get out of the store. Buy something real and whole and a little bit dirty. Join a CSA. Choose the odd, knobby vegetable at a farmer’s market. Order half a cow or pig from your local farmer and try experimenting with some new cuts of meat. Meet the people who grow your food – chat with a friendly face behind the egg counter and see what those chickens have been eating: bugs & grass or gummi worms? Find farmers, neighbors, roadside vendors, and companies that have integrity and support a sustainable relationship with the environment. Tropical Traditions, US Wellness Meats, Nutiva, and Wild Planet are a few places to start. The more local the business, the better.

Grow your own food! My balcony planters have presented me with daily joys and struggles. My mint and basil leaves are overflowing with bounty and providing fodder for all sorts of kitchen experiments from milkshakes to salad dressings. My zucchini plant died a tragic, aphid-induced death, but I don’t regret the experience at all. It was such a joy to wake up one morning to squash blossoms, and I got totally absorbed in aphid-removal research and scientific experimentation. Learning opportunities abound when we get our hands a little dirty.

Our food needs more respect. Our bodies need more respect. Our environment as well as our relationships, connection, and integrity as human beings needs more respect. Truly experiencing our food and our connection to the earth that supports our life is fundamental to a healthy path in living happily.  Isn’t it wonderful that the path to that respect is engaging, life-affirming, and delectable? 

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This wasn’t my first go-around in a rice field. Check out my thoughts, and some random Sumo Carrot Cake, from rice planting back in May.