At its heart, a genuine food culture is an affinity between people and the land that feeds them.
-Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.
The choices I make now about my food will influence the rest of my life. If a lot of us felt this way, and started thinking carefully about our consumption habits just one meal at a time, we could affect the future of our planet.
-Camille Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.
I finally finished Animal Vegetable Mineral: A Year of Food Life, and am enjoying the afterglow of inspiration while still trying to digest its far reaching focus.
It is both a new and old way of looking at food and our relationship to it. Reading about Kingsolver's garden, her canning, and her garden journals filled with nature notes were all food for my soul. The outdoors have always been a particular place of joy for me, the changing smells of the seasons, the excitement of growing things, the lessons plants teach us silently, leading by leafy example. It is amazing just how much nature is woven into our being if we just go outside and are reminded. For me, it is the ultimate sanctuary, the ultimate grace.
The book also reminded me of the importance of a food culture, of individual knowledge of our food. It reminded me of the manager of the french restaurant I worked for during college. When it was slow, we would often talk about her life growing up in France. She would happily regale me with colorful details of their daily meals, her mother's careful preparation of each menu, her loving care of their family's potager. Their garden supplied most of their fresh vegetables, and other goods were bought locally and produced locally. Regional pride prevailed. Natural ingredients created with care and pride made fulfilling, shared meals that nourished both body and soul, family and community. And. as importantly, the environment, the land, and its natural abundance.
We have now had a vegetable garden for the past three years, slowly growing more proficient with time. This year is the first that I will continue growing through our mild winter, and next year I plan to learn to can, learning to store the bounty of summer. Reading this book makes me realize at a very deep level what I do impacts more than myself and the environment, it also affects my daughter and future generations. I want to teach her where her food comes from, I want her to feel the excitement of sowing a seed and watching it grow, and I want her to internalize the deep happiness that comes with that ancient alchemy of earth, air, and growing things.