It has been rather a long time since I last posted. The store has become an ongoing conversation on all things food related with our community. This is a wonderful thing for conversation, but not so much for writing. Don and I decided there were many advantages to taking a computer home where each of us could do work uninterrupted by conversation. So we now have a home office where each of us can write, both for this blog and for catalogs, and in the future for a full service e-commerce website. Our intention is to offer the same perspective and opinions about books here and on the website that we do so readily in the store. Another way to have a conversation, or dialog if you will, about these issues that we find so compelling.
So, if you have not read “Farmer in Chief” by Michael Pollan in todays NYT, do so immediately. It will take a little time, but I can wait…
OK, now we are on the same page. I do not think it is necessary to go into detail about why what he says is so important. Chances are if you are reading this you hold similar views. But I will say this. The past couple of weeks have been hair raising for anyone watching the stock market, reading the newspapers or watching their 401k bleed out. It is impossible as a small business owner not to harbor your own individual nightmares about the near future. And the political candidates have not yet said anything concrete about what they will do with this mess when they take office. Is there even anything they can do? So it is not hard to be anxious. I am anxious. But when I read these ideas that Pollan puts forth I feel like there is some glimmer of hope. Not because I think our future president is likely to put most of these practices into effect, but simply because there is a way out. If there is anything I have taken from the financial pickle we are in it has been this dark feeling that there is little hope, that we have screwed things up beyond repair, that as a nation we value all the wrong things and that is why we are in this mess. But if I calm down, turn off the news static and think about the people we have met in the past 18 months since we opened the store, I can see in my minds eye the faces of various young farmers we have met. I can hear the conversations we have had with people who want to know where their food comes from. I can recall the exchange with one particular group of customers who objected to a photo we had on the walls showing a slaughtered pig, at the same time that they had built a stack of barbecue books for purchase on our counter. Though the dialog began contentiously, by the end they were vowing to return to their local farmer’s market to find a source for locally and ethically raised pork. I cherish that interchange. And we have it often. We are providing the forum for these ideas and they are coming out into the light.
I have long thought that it would be impossible for our nation to feed itself without resorting to the sickly system we currently support. However Pollan has addressed that concern and given me concrete examples of alternatives that I can see working. There are sacrifices inherent to these solutions, but if there was ever a better moment for Americans to be comfortable with making sacrifices I cannot think of it. We are going to have re-learn how to run our financial systems. Why not re-structure our food chain at the same time? I was freaked out by the price of gas earlier this Fall. Recent events have distracted me from that worry, while prices have crept down. The issue of our petrochemical use is still a very dire one. The every real threat posed by our dependence on a waning resource is only that much more significant when you realize how much of our food chain is in that equation.
The growing season is winding down here in Maine, at least for those of us who carve our gardening time out of our ‘working’ time. I still have carrots and greens, but have planted my garlic and various green manures in much of my plot. I wish that I had grown more food, and preserved more of what I had grown. When I caught up with a friend recently and we were commiserating over the state of the economy she said to me, “I am just glad I grow my own food.” We laughed together but I thought to myself, why didn’t I grow more? Hopefully we will be ok this Winter, but next Spring I will plant more. And I am glad that this year we bought a chest freezer and at the end of the month we will fill it with 1/8 of a cow we are buying from a local farmer. And that it already holds a part of a local pig.
If ever there will be Winter for cooking at home this will be it. I see lots of soups and stews in our future. I will work on my bread making. We will keep ourselves warm and safe with the delicious food that we prepare together and for our loved ones. Not sure how this got so maudlin, although I imagine Don is cringing somewhere on the sidelines. Going forward I will endeavor to provide any who reads here with guidance, inspiration and reference for making their own lovely meals for their own lovely loved ones…