Sunday, September 9, 2012
The Food Connection
Yesterday, we went up to Amish Country (Lancaster County, PA) to visit the farm where we get our milk, eggs and other great products from an Amish farmer who delivers to our area.
My friend and her son joined us on our adventure. It was a beautiful drive up the back roads through the windy, hilly roads of the Pennsylvania countryside.
The farm was modest and we were amazed how his farm, plus his son's could produce all things our group orders from him. Even his house, where he is raising his 10 kids was more modest than most houses we see that have many less people living in them. The yard was immaculate, as were the all the members of the family. We were also impressed at how cordial and conversational he and his family were. Not at all the stiff necked people we stereotyped Amish to be. The lesson I came away with from the visit was that we have a lot to learn from these simple people about life.
We feel very lucky to be able to say: "We know were our milk comes from and have met the farmer and seen the chickens who lay our eggs". The farmer is a very responsible steward of the earth. He treats the animals and the land the way they were meant to be treated. The cows are grassfed, hens are not cooped up all day and barns are only used when necessary. No need for sewage pits, huge barns, gigantic machinery or chemicals. They know how to work with the land and not against it.
Such a difference from the farms I am used to seeing in the Midwest. The question is, can all farmers practice this, or is the need for food too great? And is it really the need for food that is too great or is it companies who have become too greedy that make it hard for farmers to go back to the way it used to be? Maybe if we all used these practices and weren't so reliant on corn and soybeans and other grains for feeding livestock, we would have more land for people food. Sure, it's pretty to see rows of corn fields and soybeans, but as I drove through my hometown in Minnesota last month, I wondered, where are the cows? Why aren't these fields used for grazing? The cows are stuck in small manure covered pens- mostly inside, and are given grains to get fat. Cows are meant to eat grass- not grains. I don't know all the answers, but I do like knowing I support a sustainable, responsible farmer.
I hope my children will keep the memory of that place until we get to visit again. Knowing where food comes from is important to me- especially in the day in age of processed food and industrialized farming. Food has come so far from it's original source and the way it's meant to be grown that I think we have lost the connection with our food. "If it's on the grocery store shelf, it's ok for me and my children," is not the way I live anymore. I think a healthy mistrust of food ingredients is needed in our society. No longer can we trust corporations to nourish us when the only thing they care about is money. It's shocking what they call food now a days. What exactly are we putting in our mouths? The big companies don't care as long as it's making them money.
Enough of my tangent! All I'm saying is that it's nice to say to be able to have a glass of untreated, unprocessed milk and know exactly how it got in my hands. The occasional little feathers left on my eggs are a sweet reminder too.