Thoughts from the farm: Face to face with your food
Dear local food eaters,
As anyone who's ever gardened or caught a fish knows, there is something special about eating something that you personally had a part in tending or harvesting. There is a feeling of connection with nature and the cycle of life and death. There is a primal satisfaction in knowing you are self sufficient and also connected to nature, at least for that one meal or bite.
It is very important in this day and age to really know where our food comes from. We always talk about it. Where does your food come from? - By that, I typically mean - who grew it? what labels and certifications does it have? Where did it get transported from? How were people treated and compensated in the labor required to get it? How were the animals treated? What chemicals were used to produce it, and what effect did those chemicals have on the soil, water, and ecosystem? How does it digest and feel in your body when you eat it? What former habitat is destroyed to make agricultural space for it? What water and other essential inputs is used to grow it and where does that come from?
Questions like these are ever so important, and we all should think about them and continually inform ourselves of the answers to them as responsible eaters.
However, there is another side of this question that goes beyond facts and figures, as important as that information is. More philosophical and abstract, knowing where your food comes from also involves how connected you personally feel to the whole process. There are so many layers and subjective nuances to this. To me, where does your food come from? also means: did you see it or touch it or care for it when it was alive? Do you know deep down that what you are eating used to be alive? Do you personally know who grew it and how? Would you let your children play where it was grown or harvested? Would you stick your hands in the soil there? Would you pick it yourself? Could you kill it yourself? Would you still eat it if you saw the way it was processed? Could you watch it be butchered? Would you get face to face with it?
Another, understandably provocative way to put it is, can you look your food in the eye?
This phrase is meaningful to me because an acquaintance of ours told us that he stopped raising pigs (conventionally in confinement) because he said he could "no longer look them in the eye".
I'm not bringing any of this up to make anyone feel guilty or bad in any way. It is not about right or wrong or which choices are superior to others. These are personal questions with personal answers that will be different for everyone but are worth asking. It is about what is right to you - what choices bring you health and a sense of integrity? In this way, it is a valuable and personal conversation to open up, with no correct or better answer.
I personally do not always want to look my food in the eye, because when I do, I don't always like what I see. I said to Brooks the other day - "I'm done with produce from California." Reading about the impending desertification of our continent was depressing and made me want to stop supporting it. But the truth is, I still do buy organic salad or spinach or broccoli or fruit from California. My desire for fresh greens outweighs my desire to put in extra effort at times. In those enticing and hungry grocery store moments, places like Mifflintown (Village Acres), Blain (Chicano Sol), Boiling Springs (Earth Spring Farm), or a handful of other friends and farmers seem so far away and inconvenient. And of course then I can justify not wasting gas to get to them.
It seems like there is no easy solution for us in our busy lives, at least nothing absolute or one size fits all. The easiest and most convenient options may not be in line with our values. And what is in line with our values is not always in line with our budget.
This is merely a challenge to consider the whole picture of your eating and its impact, as well as how it feels to you. It is a big part of our existence, as we eat every day many times, and our food literally sustains our life. Different and deeper than carbon footprint, or percentages of vitamins, or your BMI or dozens of other quantifiable snapshots, this is a subjective question that only you can answer for yourself, if you can bear to ask it: Where does your food come from? How do you feel about it? Do you like your reasons for the choices you make?
When I am eating a carefully sourced and lovingly prepared meal, I love knowing that my food comes from a good place: people with integrity, fertile soil, responsible care, positive environmental effects, and highest quality. Not to feel like I'm doing it "right", or attaining perfect health, or saving the world; but just for the peace, connection, and deep sense of nourishment it brings to me.
Whether it's placebo affect or extra chi or a little of both, eating fresh dairy products from our neighbor's jersey grassfed cows feels truly different to me in every sense than eating whatever dairy from the store. I think about it differently, I appreciate it more, and I physically feel the difference too. I love to be able to trust my farmer and really KNOW where my food comes from.
Our hope is that you feel this sense of connection when you eat food from our farm.
We want you to know that as your farmer, we get face to face with your food every day. We hope that you can continue to trust us and our practices, and our missions to regenerate the soil and land as well as produce the highest quality nutritious food possible.
You are our community of eaters, and our farm is yours as far as we're concerned. When you buy food from us, you can know what goes into it in as much or little detail as your little heart desires because we're here to tell you all about it, and explain what, why, and how we farm it.
We are always sharing our experiences with you so that you, our eaters, can feel like you touch it and are face to face with it.
As your farmers, we're here to look your food in the eye for you and give you our promise that it's food to feel good about.
In good health,