Teaching learners about the local food system has opened my eyes to things I’ve taken for granted. I grew up eating what came off the farm where I lived. I didn’t think that was special, actually quite the opposite. I’ll never forget when friends from California came to visit us on the farm and brought a Chef Boyardee Pizza Kit. Pizza on the farm...Pizza from a box! This memory is powerful. I don’t remember it being flavorful but it was pizza. I don’t think Mom before Chef Boyardee arrived.
It wasn’t fun to eat carrots and onions and strawberries from your own backyard. It was boring and hard work. Eating from your yard meant planting, watering, weeding, harvesting, cleaning and cooking. Not nearly as fun and opening a box and cans. The fascination with industrially produced foods seemed normal for us as we rarely ate away from home, so whenever we could get processed foods we were thrilled.
And today, I’m 180 degrees away from this. I realize now how great our diets were 50 years ago and beyond. Limited chemicals, limited preservatives, seasonal eating and locally produced vegetables - concepts highly touted in foodie circles today but it was all we had as hard working farm families years ago.
This past weekend was spent back on that farm, gardening with my mom just like old times. I could spend all my hours there. Not only nostalgic, it is also good for my soul to witness food growing. Growing what you eat is fun.