Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Craft of Writing and Gardening

Yesterday I had a chance, before it started raining, to get outside and work on one of my raised beds.  In wool cap pulled down to my eyes, gloves and snow jacket, winter's cold air took my breath away and forced me to stop and rest, while I pictured the image of a bountiful harvest of fresh food I was working toward. 

An article in Sunday's paper reminded me of why I was doing this, rather than enjoying the warm comfort inside my door.  Grocery prices were again on the rise and threatened to tip the scales of how much a lot of people had to spend and how far their funds would stretch.

My goal, however, isn't simply to supplement what I buy at the grocery stores with what I'm able to grow on my own.  More important, my goal is to not support the agribusiness that spends too much fuel to transport those groceries or to help supply funds for unhealthy growing practices that deplete America's farm lands.

What food our farm can't produce will be bought from local farmers, as we did last year.  Our food doesn't need to be pumped up with additives.  Our beef doesn't need to be injected with hormones or antibiotics.  Not if the cows are allowed to eat what they're created to eat.  Grass. 

One of the points in Sunday's article made me laugh when I read it, then my husband and I shook our heads over the outrageous lie it attempted to tell its readers.

It stated that one of the reasons for meat becoming considerably more expensive this year is because of the rise in "grain" prices for feed.  Hello.  Cows who are forcefed grain and get fatter faster are the ones who have to have antibiotics because one of their rumens (stomaches--they have more than one) become infected.  Cows are not supposed to eat grain. 

Here's the deal.  Human food is meant to come from the soil.  Everything from the soil.  Cows eat grass which comes from the soil, and they give us milk, butter, and cheese.   Vegetables, including dried beans and  corn as well as green leafy vegetables, root crops like potatoes and sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, come from the soil.  Cows and other animals enrich the soil with manure.  Our gardens are fed with chicken manure.  Our chickens roam free and eat whatever they want.  We get eggs.

This is nature.  Natural.  For those who want to believe that their food comes from antiseptic sources and deny nature's cycle are not only living a fairytale but are eating really bad food if they think "clean" food comes from a box, bottle or can. 

One of the books I'm currently reading, perhaps one of the best on the subject, is Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage & Preservation by Sharon Astyk.  The author makes a strong, valid case for storing good, healthy food in your pantry for your family.  You need not have a full-fledged garden, or live on a farm. 

For instance, last year our farm did not produce the amount of corn I rely on for my freezer.  I bought what I needed from a local farmer.  Why support a large corporation whose produce comes from across the country?  I want to see farmers in this area do well and profit.  The money I spend here benefits my family, my community. 

Besides making sure my family eats the best food possible, another goal is to inform others.  Look into it, please.  Give some thought to how you eat, how many meals you eat out at restaurants, how many dollars you supply to big-business retailers, how many staples you have stored for a from-scratch meal. 

It's estimated that in three days your local grocers' shelves could be emptied if shipments were delayed or stopped.  Three days.  I've seen that here most recently with a forcasted snow storm.  Can you get by that long?  What if it takes three weeks?  Be safe.


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