Confessions of a foodie

Fall is my favorite time of the year. The flies and mosquitoes disappear, and the trees turn to my favorite colors of red and orange and gold. Nights cool off and the sun still feels warm. The garden’s bounty fills my root cellar and freezer. Dried leaves crunch and cranes coo overhead.

Every magazine in my mailbox and a good number of the emails in my inbox feature recipes. Roast turkey, dressing, vegetables of all kinds, salads all make my mouth water. Pumpkin deserts beg to be made and soups beckon.

I frequently think about food. That is appropriate since I am a farmer and have spent most of my adult life growing food for myself and others. I am the primary cook in our house and enjoy trying new recipes and exploring food from all over the world. Food occupies much of my waking hours.

Yes. I am a foodie.

For most of history, finding food and preparing it has occupied the majority of people’s time and effort. In addition to a roof over one’s head and clothes to keep us warm, food and water are the basic requirements for staying alive. Only in recent times and in only a few places has food become a minor part of humans’ daily effort. We still eat, sometimes too much. Americans eat in the car, at our desks, on the street and even in our tractor cabs. Often we eat food that doesn’t really taste good and isn’t particularly good for us just to fill us up. An amazing number of the diseases which plague us are food related.

I buy and eat organic food. I grow organic food. We raise and eat grass fed beef. If we are what we eat, it seems to make sense that what our food eats also makes a difference. I pay attention to the miles my food has travelled. We drink Fair Trade Certified coffee—whole bean freshly ground. I try to avoid buying foods made cheaply by paying labor and farmers less than I would want to be paid for my labor or for the things we grow. I cook most things from scratch. We drink raw milk when the cow is fresh and I have pickled, dried and preserved all kinds of things. I have even made my own cheese.

Why do we eat this way? Because we think it is a healthy way to eat. Our preoccupation with food and how it is raised, processed, distributed and prepared does make meal planning take more time than popping a frozen pizza in the oven. Sometimes our choices may cost more than the cheapest alternative, but since much of our food is not processed, is grown here, or is purchased in bulk, our grocery bills are not excessive.

I am passionate about food. Food has been a major focus of my life and my work. For me organic food production is not simply an alternative marketing scheme. Grass-fed beef is not just the latest fad. Local food is more than an elitist trend. Food issues relate to economics, justice, politics, wars, religion, ethics, art and science. Food affects our personal health and the health of our community.

Everyone makes decisions based on what he or she believes is best for one’s self and one’s family. Sometimes we compromise. Often we just do the best we can with the resources we have to work with. I can’t be judgmental about what’s in someone else’s grocery cart.

Yes. There are canned pork and beans and frozen tortillas in my freezer. I buy frozen peas because I hate shelling peas. I enjoy eating out occasionally and sometimes I just need chocolate…any kind. No one is perfect.

Copyright © 2014 Janet Jacobson and Sustaining the Northern Plains