Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Bought of Inspiration

I just finished reading the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingslover (published in 2007; I know, I know, I just now read it!). What an amazing story. Like Barbara, I grew up in a rural area. I have lived most of my life at the base of the Sierra Nevadas, appreciating and adoring wide open spaces and small town life. I too grew up eating from a large family garden. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is the story of Barbara Kingsolver’s (and her family) journey to eat almost all of their food from local sources for one whole year, with most of their food coming from their own garden. They even raise chickens and turkeys for meat and eggs. If anyone of you out there is interested in eating local, this book is for you.

Though this book is quite interesting, I didn’t read it because I thought I would learn something knew; I know and understand our conventional food system, which is why I stay away from it. It is why I became a vegetarian (I will not eat meat from CAFOs, but home raised and organic is a different story). I read this book because I knew it would tug hard at my soul; and it did! This book spoke to me in ways many books can’t. Since I was a young child, running down rows of green beans, hiding in tall rows of corn, and picking off tomato worms to give to chickens, I knew I wanted to garden, and to garden on a large scale. I read this book to remind myself of my future goals and aspirations; to homestead with my husband and daughter, and to live a simple, productive life (and to hopefully write cookbooks and teach culinary arts).

When I first moved away from home at age 17, I lived in a little house in Morro Bay with a tiny yard. I set to work growing snow peas, broccoli, and lettuce, and eventually potatoes and garlic. My first attempts were not so good; I had picked a low sun area of the yard, not to mention the unreasonable amounts of fog. But since then I have made a habit of always having a garden. Even now, surrounded by concrete, I keep quite a few wine barrels where I grow zucchini, tomatoes, three kinds of beans, cucumbers, mint, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, chives, winter savory, oregano, Thai basil, lemon basil, and Greek basil. I just got another barrel yesterday to start my lettuce, carrots, and broccoli. Point is, even in small concrete covered areas, fresh homegrown produce is possible. Along with the terrific and productive Central Coast farmers markets, about 80% of my family’s food comes from local sources. My husband and I have been this way for over 6 years now, and anyone can do it. We have been planning for a while now to hopefully move back to the Sierra Nevadas and start our homestead. We want our daughter to not only grow up knowing where her food comes from, but to actually know how to grow it herself. Most people do not know where it is their food comes from, and how much work is involved, nor do they have the common sense to even care. And why should they? Our culture places no value on knowing these things. A tomato is a tomato, right? Why should I care about where it comes from?

I worry about our food security and food supply, with GE ingredients constantly threatening diversity. I want my daughter to have the practical sense and know how to grow her own food, to have that security. I also feel a civic duty to protect heirloom seeds and to hopefully raise heritage breeds of farm animals. This has always been a goal of mine, and the above mentioned book just furthered my inspiration. I am someone who truly loves to dig in the soil, so why not put that love to use and help to protect our future food shed in the process?

We are going to visit family for Fourth of July, and I am hoping to meet with a woman who makes fresh goat cheese from her very own goat’s milk. She is a friend of my moms, and has offered to show and teach me. These are our first steps toward self sufficiency, though it will be awhile before we even move, but the plans are in the works. The pictures connected to this post are of my gorgeous little daughter Ellissa playing with our first harvest of Yellow Romano beans and zucchini from our garden. She already loves to dig in the dirt, and I think she will be all the better for it.


Jen said...

Ah these will be great memories for your daughter growing up surrounded by all of this. Aren't kids naturally drawn to the magic of gardening and growing food? It's been a meager garden year for us (distracted by this soon-to-come baby!), but next year I will have a garden helper! I want to teach our kids this self-sufficiency, to not be dependent on faceless, faraway food sources. Moving to a place with lots of land to farm is a dream for us, too!
This book sounds really interesting, I also saw the author of Food, Inc. interviewed last night, looks interesting as well!

Correne Quigley-Faysal said...

YES!! Food Inc, I think the movie opens at the palm tonight. I think children are naturally drawn to the outdoors, Ellissa loves to be outside. Congratulations on becoming a mom (soon to be), you will love it, there is nothing like it.