Saturday, October 30, 2010

Time is a Luxury

I finally made the sumac tea. It's pretty easy: add cold water to the berries and let sit for a while. Strain and drink. As reported, it is very much like a lemonade. I would like to add that it soothed my hangover, cured my acne, and made me a sparkling wit for 24 hours, but that is not true. It is refreshing and simple. That's enough.

Since graduating last year and starting work at Beardsley Farm I've been cooking more. My half CSA share from A Place of the Heart Farm has helped push my food experimenting. As I write, napa cabbage sits in brine waiting to become kimchi. In November I'll attend a canning class by my friend Kat Raese. I enjoy the labor of cooking as much as I like to eat the food, but am continually amazed at how easily I can pass several hours cooking. And then it's time to think about the next meal.

This experience reinforces for me that the obesity epidemic (and our other failings of health, both physical and ecological) are far more complex and difficult than a matter of will or making good choices. It's hard to argue for things like canning your own food (which takes several hours) in comparison with buying canned goods from the grocery store. Especially when the store bought food is so inexpensive. I have the benefit of several factors that make it easier for me to cook and experiment with things like canning and kimchi, but chief among them is time. I have time to cook because I don't work three or four jobs or have several children or older relatives in my care. Were I responsible for feeding people beyond myself and my husband, you can bet there would be a couple nights of fish sticks and ketchup.

I enjoy fantasizing about a life lived more closely off the land: growing more of the food we eat, having bees, making our own clothes and furniture, etc. etc. but the reality of that lifestyle is that it demands a lot more of your time. As of yet, I cannot figure a way to be the super urban homesteader and have a contemporary career. I follow the flickr images of a woman who goes by the name Wilderness Gal. She and her husband and daughter are living a back-to-the-land life of homesteading. It looks gorgeous and rugged, but it also seems isolated and all consuming. Their sustenance is her primary occupation, where as I approach things like gardening and wildcrafting as hobbies with aesthetic and metaphoric value.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Way You Do One Thing

A friend of ours recently mentioned the expression, "The way you do one thing is the way you do all things." The truth of the sentiment makes me cringe: the way I do most things is not the way I want to do all things. To quote Issa, "And yet, and yet." And yet I rush impatiently into many situations only to find myself wishing I'd had the presence of mind to stop for a red hot minute and make a plan. Or change my shoes.

Today as we traveled up and down I-75 I saw clumps of staghorn sumac growing in edges of the fields alongside the highway. Since last fall I've been wanting to harvest the berries and make the lemonade-esque drink I've read about. Additionally, it is supposed to rain tonight and I'd heard that it's best to harvest the berries before a rain drains them of their flavor. These details converged in my mind and generated a sense of great urgency that propelled me to rush out to the embankment near our house as soon as we got home. Despite the fact that it was dusk and I was wearing cowboy boots, I made for the sumac I'd seen growing, slipped through to the other of the chain link fence, and started skittering up a steep slope towards the plants.

After watching me fall clumsily through the tall weeds, a burly neighbor yelled up to ask just "What the hell are you doing?" I told him. Twice. And then skittered away trying to look like I had every business stumbling through the brush and hoping he wouldn't call the police. None of the young sumac plants I found had berries-- they don't produce until at least a year of growth-- and I realized I would have to hop the tall fence in my stupid boots in order to avoid backtracking down the steep hill. I ripped my t-shirt in the process but avoided skewering myself on the fence. When I finally found a plant with berries, I was so eager to make up for my earlier mistakes that I greedily broke a primary rule of foraging and harvested all three clusters--rather than leaving some to reseed or for other foragers to harvest.

The way you do one thing is the way you do all things. Next time I will do the one thing with better planning and more reasonable shoes.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Raise the Roots

I am excited to announce "Raise the Roots: A dinner to celebrate and support CAC Beardsley Community Farm." This fundraising dinner will be hosted by the Tomato Head on Market Square, Monday evening, November 22nd, from 6-9 pm. Tickets are $25 and available for purchase here or by clicking the button below. Dinner will be prepared by Tomato Head owner, Mahasti Vafaie, and Maryville Tomato Head cook, Robert Birkholtz. Doors open at 6 pm and the buffet dinner will be served at 7:30. Please help us spread the word about this event and about the important work of Beardsley Community Farm.