16 Jun When food is real.
We’ve started hanging out at an Amish farm the last several weeks. Well, officially we’re just buying milk and eggs from them, but somehow we always stay an hour, playing with their kids, checking out the new calves born, feeding the pigs, holding the chicks. It’s been educational and FUN for my kids. So much so, the last time we went, I was planning to just pick up our items and leave, when Corban cried, “MOM, we’re not going to PLAY?!” So we stayed. Actually, when it was time for us to leave, they wondered where we were off to. Replying with “storytime in the park” suddenly felt inconsequential, like it was the most important part of our day and it wasn’t really benefiting anyone! Don’t get me wrong, I love Stories in the Park and our library and community events. But it is pretty extraneous to survival.
So far, every time we’ve left, I’ve had tears in my eyes. For one, it’s set up just like my family home–big farm house, barn, shed, lots of pasture, loads of space. I feel like I’m home every time we go. Even the would-be offensive smells take me back to my childhood next to a dairy farmer, manure always caked on our hyperactive poodle mutt. Then there’s watching the animals live and eat and be as God intended. Call me sappy, but it’s a beautiful picture in our evermore manmade world to see cows grazing, chicks roaming free. (Poor City James asked, “This doesn’t mean you want to live in the country and farm, does it?!” No no, not now anyway:) For now, I’m happy to pay someone else to live that lifestyle, but I sure do like living it for an hour at a time!)
The first time we left the farm, Mattie gave us something I can’t remember (started with an h or b?) with a few mint leaves to make some tea, she said. I asked if it was all for just one cup? She smiled, “Oh, you make your tea by the cup, don’t you? That’s right. This would make enough for a half gallon at least.” I’ve told James our kitchen was made for the modern family. Nice and condensed. If I were to make big batches of everything, it would feel small(er than it already is) in a heartbeat. Ah well, the tea certainly was pretty to observe.
When we purchased the milk for the first time, we were shocked at the color difference from store-bought milk (even though we’ve seen it before). It’s yellow-er due to the nutrients in their diet–being exclusively grass-fed. And it wasn’t even scary to the tastebuds:) I don’t really desire to write here about why grass-fed animal products are healthier than grain-fed, since there are only about a million other posts on the internet for that purpose. Google it. I guess I was more saddened. That we’ve become so consumer-driven that we only want more and don’t care about better. We’re pretty sad about the whole state of food in America (don’t even get me started on “kid food”!). But being out on this farm was soothing to my soul and proved to us that good, real food does exist. And while it does cost more, it hasn’t broken the bank in any way yet. AND with this new perspective on real foods in the last year plus for us, we have experienced less sickness, and the sickness we have encountered has been cared for at home. So I’ll take the reduced medical costs and say DEAL.Same thing with the butter. Check out that color difference! It’s maddening. Last time we were at the farm, the oldest girl generously gave us a few strawberries from their patch. They were so good I almost screamed. Screamed because we are satisfied with taste-less, nutrition-less produce from the grocery store, when there is so much GOODNESS to be eaten! No wonder kids complain about veggies. Compare a ripened homegrown goldenrod summer squash to one nearly white at Walmart. Suddenly you’re living again! Reminds me of what C.S. Lewis says (not about food, but I’m taking it for food, thanks, Lewis): “Our desires are not too strong, but too weak.We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Well, we certainly can’t grow everything ourselves (nor do we desire to), so we’re thankful for our farmers who spend their every day growing food naturally and are willing to share it with us. (Just so you know we’re not completely out there with all this food business, you should know that we’re also thankful for those who have used their God-given talents to invent sweet delicacies, including but not limited to: Oreos, Concrete Mixers, Mint Melanos, Girl Scout Thin Mints, red licorice, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, cheesecake, ETC. Amen.)