Sometimes, I lose sight of the fact that food, and our interaction with it, is a very very good thing (okay, I don't lose sight of it very often...) But, for most of my life, I viewed my obsession with food as a bad thing. And to be fair, it has occasionally been a negative driver.
But I really loved what Shaye Elliott wrote. I'm a good writer, but this....I could not have said it any better. This is a long read (given today's 15 second attention span), but it reminds me of why I do all of this.
I BELIEVE IN FARM LIFE. AND HERE’S WHY. BY SHAYE ELLIOTT
I believe in farm life. And here’s why.
My dear, sweet, ever-working husband is putting the finishing touches on our 9 foot farm table. It’s been in the works since early summer and to say I’m excited to see this project coming to a close is an understatement. I’ve always dreamed of a table just like it – gigantic, solid, built for entertaining.
After all, that’s what we do. Not ‘entertaining’ necessary, but… well, eating.
We eat. We’re eaters.
3 meals a day, we’re around the table. No phones. No computers. No television. No microwaved meals. Just us, each other’s company, and good food.
Because I believe in this farm life. I believe in what we’re doing.
There are many stories and a rich culture behind our food – to think that society has lost touch with this every day awesomeness is grievous to food-loving, food-production people like us. While watching ‘A Good Year’ for the umpteenth time the other day, I was struck – as I always am – by the depth to which food enjoyment can bridge gaps, build community, heal a tender situation, and create purpose.
One only needest (yes, needest) to study the feasts of the Bible to know that surely, God intended us to feast and celebrate and enjoy His provisions. Even Jesus, in celebrating the end of his earthly life, administered The Lord’s Supper – bread and wine – to be enjoyed by his close friends.
As the very first bits of Spring arrive on the farm, right now in the form of new lambs, seedlings, and a few tips of garlic poking up through the soil, I have to passionately believe in the significance of food. On one hand, in the healing benefits of good food. Food that feeds the body, food that heals the body, and food that builds a strong body that is capable of hard work – fit for service! Good food builds healthy bodies – there’s no denying it. Bodies free of preventable diseases that plague our society. It grieves my heart that I cannot fill every child’s stomach with a bowl of homemade, from-scratch chicken soup. Because soup is love, man. Homemade food is love.
On yet another hand, good food also builds our spirits. We are blessed with a small handful of friends that share our love for fellowship and food – many nights have been spent gathered around kitchen tables, nibbling bread and cheese, sipping wine, carving chickens, ladling soup, and slicing vegetables. I’m talking about elongated fellowship – where hours of food preparation are enjoyed together before partaking of an even longer meal. Drinks are shared over the meal before coffee and dessert are served and the enjoyment continues. I can’t really describe what happens over these meals – but when they end, I always find my cup filled. Even if there’s a spread of crusty dishes and empty glasses strewn around our home.
When did our culture stop sitting? When did supper become something to scarf down in the car between ball games and errands? When did we lose the magic of opening our home to others and sharing our life with them over a perfectly buttered bowl of garlic mashed potatoes?
here is magic in this food. God-given magic. And I’m hell bent on sharing that with the world.
As we set out to begin another busy year of food production on the farm, it’s important to ponder this magic. Because if the magic doesn’t exist, than surely, it wouldn’t be worth the effort. Because every single bite of food produced on this farm comes with severe effort (let there be no mistake!). Life is born and taken right here on this soil. Plants are grown and harvested. Even the bacon is a testimony to our farming philosophies and triumphs. But why does it matter?
Because, like it or not, “convenience” food doesn’t tell a story. There is nothing rich or meaningful about it. It doesn’t feed our souls. Like gas station coffee, this food offers us the idea of meaningful food without any of the bones to back it up.
As many have gathered around our table, they often come bearing stories about their own food experiences. What’s fascinating to me is that the stories that people always chose to share are those where they’ve experienced food that has a special story. Maybe it was a speciality meat they ate while in Europe. Fresh fruit they collected at a U-Pick farm. Or even a unique or ethnic ingredient a friend cooked for them. But those are the food stories that they chose to share with us. No one is ever that excited to share that they went to the store, grabbed some DinoNuggets, and heated it up for the kids. Ain’t no story in that, man. Our souls seek depth and meaning in all things – even something as small as a homegrown herb garnish.
I’m not saying there is no place for grocery stores. I’m simply encouraging myself, and all of us, as we fight to make our food culture and our food experiences more.
There is room for much, much more.
Every bite of food you take – every single bite – has a story. What does it say?
I’d like to think that if a stranger were to come to my home, they’d be able to see my kitchen – be it full of messy dishes – and my gigantic table, garden, and animals and think “Dang, man. Girl likes to eat!”. I’d hope that they’d be able to easily see what I value. Because if the Lord has called me to fill bellies with good food and nurture those around me while tending to my teeny little corner of this world, I plan to do it the best I can.
I value creation. I value health. I value God’s provision. I value community. I value fellowship. I value my family. To think that all of that can be reflected in a breakfast of scrambled eggs is astonishing.
As we head into the busy season of farming, not to mention the season of another newborn, I am ever more focused on these values. The freezer has been stocked with chickens, pork, and lamb from our farm. Cecelia is in training to be the new dairy queen of the farm. Eggs are overflowing out of the baskets. Vegetable starts are filling up the entire kitchen. And the new potager garden is slowly being pieced together. We are filling our soil with what will fill our souls.
This life. This farm life. This is absolutely as good as it gets. And I believe in it.
Which is why I’m showing up, day after day.