This new phase of my life has been a long time coming. Personally, I blame it on Michael Pollan, whose book The Omnivore’s Dilemma talked about Polyface Farms, and thereby set a hook into my brain that has never been removed. Sustainable farming with happy animals – who knew it could be more than a hobby in this era of monoculture crops?
Still, living in Vancouver, British Columbia, farming seemed about as real to me as buying my own house (that’s an inside joke – just check out the housing prices there). Sure, some people did it, but there was no way it would ever happen for me. Cooking was a necessary evil, and vegetables even more so.
But then, in May 2014, I moved out to Chilliwack, BC, with my then-partner. No, I’m still not a farmer – but I discovered locally grown, seasonal, organic vegetables. And honey from local bees! And get this – did you know there’s more than one type of corn on the cob? I was astounded the time I went to buy fresh corn from a sidewalk vendor and they asked me whether I wanted Triple Sweet Jubilee or Peaches and Cream. I had to laugh at myself. If there is such a thing as a city bumpkin, I was it.
For someone who had been eating frozen vegetables and the half-rotten “fresh” produce from supermarkets all her life, local organic vegetables were a revelation. I was amazed the day I cut open a fresh organic crimini mushroom and found it was pure snowy white inside, no brown at all. And it was dense with moisture. You could feel the weight of it in your hand.
I craved those mushrooms for several days, an experience I have had more than once when buying organic produce. I bought fennel this fall, chopped it, and roasted it under pork chops. It was so good that I ate every bit of it and went back to the store the next day to buy more. I believe that our bodies can tell us when we are lacking in certain nutrients. A body that is not confused by the consumption of sugar and chemicals will have natural cravings, an innate signalling system that is meant to work to our advantage.
I would love to buy only pasture-raised meat, but at present that is beyond my budget. However, I plan to start talking to local butchers about acquiring pasture-raised organ meats and cheaper cuts. Maybe this coming fall I can buy half a pig / lamb / cow. Ever since I found out that organ meats contain nutrients we cannot get easily other ways, I’ve been working on including them in my diet.
…Did I mention I have a B.A. in Creative Writing and a tendency to write epics unless I bite my metaphorical tongue? Allow me to jump ahead many, many paragraphs to the punchline: “…and that’s how I became interested in food security”. More on that another day, because now it’s time to make dinner!