A Side Dish of Gratitude
By Owen Segerstrom
As our family anticipates the beginning of the Local Food Experience, we are finding it important to focus on the opportunity and the adventure that await us, rather than the sacrifice. While we have some serious adjustments ahead--are we sure we don’t want to make an exception for coffee?--we want to be mindful of how unbelievably lucky we are to even contemplate eating (almost) exclusively from our local food community for a year. When the going gets tough, and it would be so darn convenient to grab a pizza from the pub in town or the Aidells sausages that are one of our family’s defaults when we run out of time to cook, we hope that gratitude for this experience will win out over the temptations of convenience.
For much of humanity, a plan like the Local Food Experience is literally unthinkable. More than one billion people struggle, daily, to find anything to eat. While most extreme cases of hunger are concentrated in the most impoverished regions of the planet, we here in the “developed” world are by no means immune. One in six Americans faces periodic food insecurity, defined as “the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.” Our deeply flawed commodity agriculture model ensures that much of the food that is affordable is not remotely nutritious. In short, a meal of any kind is not to be taken for granted, and a nourishing meal produced by a farm that practices soil-conscious agriculture is tragically uncommon. To voluntarily restrict our dietary options and to be part of a group of producers that makes such a choice feasible is, clearly, an enormous privilege.
This evening, we ate some Chioggia beets from Bidwell Canyon Farm. We sliced them raw and ate them plain, and they were delicious. The flesh of the beet looks like a candy cane, but it tastes even better, and each beet is a little nugget of preventative health care. We know some old habits are going to die hard, and we have a lot of work to do to prepare for winter, but as we count the days (39!) until the solstice, we are, above all, grateful to be in this place, with these friends, taking on this challenge together.