I've never claimed to be hugely political. In fact, my limited knowledge on current events is embarrassing. However, I do know one thing. I love food. I love my kids. And I generally care about people and the future of our health and planet.
So here goes.
I am afraid that our children's children are in danger of not knowing where an egg comes from. Or possibly never smelling fresh basil in a field. Even worse, they may order food by a click of a button, never touching or smelling or feeling the ridges of a cantaloupe or the soft divots of an avocado.
I am guilty of ordering from Amazon, buying bananas from far away places at Costco and serving convenience foods to my children. We eat out and we eat junky from time to time. My kids get treats I can't control. I am NOT perfect. However, there is this little nudge deep down that cares, a whole awful lot, about this food thing.
I care that there are scientists in LABORATORIES mutating food that I may blindly serve my children because those people don't think kindly enough of proudly labeling their work (in our country).
I care that hormones are added to foods that I would never add to my body.
I care that food is modified to KILL off PESTICIDES that KILL bugs and then is deemed OK to eat and will somehow NOT KILL US.
I care that in schools and hospitals (where it kind of sort of matters that learning and growing children and healing and sick people be fed well) are being served JUNK and more JUNK.
I care that it takes a LOT of gas and power and money to raise, kill and transport meat from one side of the country to the other.
I care that food is in season for a reason. Pineapples grow in Hawaii not Indiana. Tomatoes grow in summer, not January -- not by chance.
I care that people with dreams get up and bust ass everyday to share that little nudge God put in their heart and gut and they risk it all to bring you bacon or syrup or honey or fresh baked bread that will, gasp, go bad in two days on your counter because it's free of crap.
I care that food simply tastes like it should. That a tomato is not perfectly round or red in nature, and that oddly it ALWAYS is red and perfectly round at the store.
I care that organic has been labeled such a safe word that people may never know what organic FARMING and values and efforts actually are, and why it matters that a cracker is labeled organic because somebody chose to farm wheat, organically -- not make crackers organically.
I care that food tells stories. Creates bridges between generations. Brings families together.
I care that how food is grown, responsibly or not, affects the economy, the weather and the future of our children's health, wealth and happiness.
I want my kids to know their ABCs and math and how to travel to Europe and above all be kind to others and do what is right when no one is looking and of course love God with and without question. All that matters, but in our family, food is up there. They need to know where food comes from, how it is made, how it looks on our plate and how we eat it together at the same table. How vegetables that grow from sun and water will make our bodies grow, just like the plant grew that we are eating.
We talk about this stuff. I let them in. I let them eat basil and fennel and try things beyond their palate. I tell them what junk is and they know what food dye does to their body because I've let them have it and feel it and know...again, we aren't perfect. But the conversation is started.
We joined our local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture -- a way for people to buy locally produced food and build community with the farmer. In making the financial commitment to the farm, people become CSA members, shareholders or subscribers. In return, members receive locally grown, in season items. Essentially, members share in bounty or burden.)
We had the honor of visiting our farmer and his fields and his precious family yesterday. This season has proved to be full and beautiful in bounty. In our home we have enjoyed and moaned over fresh chives, tender and sweet salad greens, the first bright red and yellow perfectly imperfect tomatoes, the juicy and thick Indiana corn, the peppers (some of them "sunburned" and "ugly" but sweet and delicious around the edges), the refreshing watermelon WITH seeds, the pasture eggs that are pasture because that's how eggs should be -- not because it's trendy, the homemade bread (yes, even with gluten), real cream and butter -- from the cows that like grass and came to us raw and in real form, honey, maple syrup, beef, chicken... and those flowers -- those flowers that make you feel like you just ran in a field in southern France and picked the colors of the sky... to name a few from the bounty...
I knew it was important to take our kids and show them the fields, the chickens, the cows, the silence, the dirt and even the hands and bare feet (yes, the family of 17 walk around in bare feet in the gravel and fields) that bless us with this bounty... but I didn't know how important it was for me and Scott.
Without going into too much detail, I learned just how important some of these ideas surrounding food are. These tag words that have become trendy and almost foggy in definition by their overuse, -- "local", "sustainable", "organic", "resting crops", "seasonal" "hybrid versus GMO" (Genetically Modified Organism) and in simple terms "Real Food."
Also how the food the farmers grow and HOW they grow it affects EVERYTHING. Wall Street to Main Street to the weather and the wear down of our planet. The way a field is planted will take what it needs from the atmosphere. And we all know food will take or give the money it demands.
Everything, it affects everything.
Yet we are worried about public versus private schools and the right soccer team or if our child knows how to read at four. And nobody is really talking about what's in that goldfish cracker, or better yet -- how that pepper tastes, that most four-year-olds have never tasted, let alone seen or talked about how, where and why it's grown.
Like I said, I'm not political. And I don't like to ruffle feathers. However, I just know this all matters. It matters because it connects us to our past, determines our children's future and it really stares us in the face and changes how our bodies function and feel in the present. And it matters because there is a bigger picture. The American Dream is not teaching your child that "he or she can do whatever she wants or dreams" -- it's teaching them we are in it together... go chase that dream, but make sure the trail you are leaving is helping others. Changing for the good. And make sure that same kid knows what real food is, where it is grown and how... that real food grows in dirt, not in grocery aisles.
Why did I get all political on you today? Here is why. One of my favorite quotes, from "The Lorax" sums it up:
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not." - Dr. Seuss
Go hug your local farmer. Or at least buy a sunburned pepper or imperfect tomato. Unless.