A New Respect for Food

When we visited a friend recently, I needed to look in their refrigerator for some milk. Their fridge was stuffed with bottles, cartons, bowls of food with and without plastic wrap, plastic storage containers, and just unwrapped loose food items sitting on the shelf. I had a moment of déjà vu as I realized that’s probably about how our refrigerator often looked when we lived in the suburbs with small children in the house. Money came and went easily, food was cheap, and it was easy to “throw it in the fridge.” Every now and then, Amanda or I would go on a tear and clean out the fridge, throwing away pounds of food that we had allowed to go bad.

Becoming subsistence farmers has changed us in many ways, but perhaps in no way more profound than our relationship with food. Money is harder to come by nowadays, so less of what we eat comes from the supermarket. We grow most of what we eat. That means we usually don’t harvest it until we’re ready to eat it. If we must harvest before we’re ready to eat it or give it away, we preserve it at its peak of freshness so we can enjoy it later.

When you grow your own food, and when each egg from the chicken coop is cause for a mini-celebration, it seems impossible to contemplate allowing any food to go to waste. I opened our refrigerator door this morning to get lemon for my tea; what I saw is typical of our fridge these days. Lots of air!

I can’t tell you the way we live now is better than the way we lived in the suburbs. Life was good then, and it’s good now. I can say that our life is more coherent now. We have more time to ponder things that have real meaning to us.

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