Fresh ......... the movie

Wow! Life has been a zoo! Most of the time I don't know if I am coming or going. And I am pretty certain this post will go kind of the same way........ all over the place.

Last night, Buy Fresh, Buy Local and Progressive Action for the Common Good sponsored a showing of the movie Fresh.

Personally, I loved the movie. Unlike many other movies out there, it seemed fairly balanced. Even the traditional farmers in Fresh understood the dilemma of conventional agriculture and sustainable agriculture. You know my position on sustainability. However, I do understand that not all farmers want the lifestyle.

We have had a joke for years in the Midwest. CB&M farmers. Corn, Beans and Miami. Joel Salatin does not go to Florida in the winter. Livestock production (like Salatin does) is too labor intensive to shut down the farm and take off for a month. Who is going to feed the livestock? Who do you hire to clean the barns?

Now -- only 7% of our nation's farm families derive over 75% of their income from on-farm income. In 1980, it was almost 20%. Bottom line ....... 93% of farmers have to work off the farm to survive. For the last 30-40 years, it has been impossible to have multiple generations and siblings living off the income of one farm.

So monoculture agriculture and confined feeding methods were devised. All in the name of a cheap food system.

Here comes the jumping-around-point!!!

I have been asked to teach some cooking classes at Scott Community College. Because I do not have a degree in education nor a chef, I wanted to observe a class before I had to present one. I sat in on a class on Mexican foods. In the chef's defense -- he did clearly state that this was an Americanized-version of Mexican foods.

But we started making salsa. It is September. In Iowa. The bread basket of America. And every kitchen I know is over-flowing with tomatoes and peppers.

So to make salsa --- we opened a jar of canned diced tomatoes. (Political truth .... these tomatoes contained high -fructose corn syrup!) We added an onion, jalapeno, bottled lime juice, salt and cumin.

And I was personally appalled.

Now back to our featured film............

So last night, I am in a room of foodies and political activists. I had made cider earlier in the day to serve with popcorn grown locally. And over and over and over again, I was asked if the cider came from a local orchard. "No, I made it". "Do you own an orchard?"

(Ahhh ... interesting question. What defines an orchard? I have 6 apples trees and only 2 are old enough to produce apples. A cherry tree that has produced one cherry during its lifespan. An apricot tree that tries to produce and every year gets knocked out by a frost. And two pears trees that gave us 3 pears....... that someone else ate!)

No .... I do not own an orchard. But I was amazed about the lack of knowledge about something as basic as cider. Cider was the premier beverage of choice in colonial America.... ok, after beer. Every farm had apple trees and a cider press. And now ......... no one knows how cider is made. Even foodies............ and I had a number of people want to come to the farm to see cider pressed.

To me ... that was like asking me .... How do you make bread???

We talk about sustainable agriculture. We talk the Food Network. We talk about the upswing in farmers markets. And I thought progress was being made. The blogs I read are full of tales about chickens and eggs and canning tomatoes and freezing sweet corn.

And this week ...... happened.

And I realized...... Micheal Pollan was right. We don't know real food. We don't cook. We talk food. We talk about learning about food. And in September, we open a can of tomatoes to make salsa. We don't know how to bake, how to cook, how to preserve ......... or even how to eat.

And until we eat real food ......... changing the food system is a dream for many of us. We are too many generations from the farm. Education needs to start on a VERY basic level. But I think the focus of my classes has changed. Real food ...... Right now.

Hmmmm? Do I need another soap box?


Theresa said…
Ad I wish I was closer to take your class!
Catherine said…
Kathy - was so sorry to miss the film (was at my UU church) and the opportunity to meet you in person. Enjoy your blog very much. Its amazing, isn't it that we can all 'talk' food but have lost the generational skills to grow and use it. Keep up your soapbox stance!

Now, if I knew what to do with all the pears I have this year....
Farm-Raised said…
This is one of my favorite posts, Cathy. And as someone a few generations from the farm, so to speak, I feel like I'm just cracking the surface on all of this. I'm so thankful to have teachers like you and so glad that you are passionate about education.

What else should we do? (You know I like to "do.") :-)

Keep writing!!! I love it! Hmm...we need to get you a column somewhere....
clink said…
Leslie -- It's people like you that give me hope. I love your passion, your interest and your quest for knowledge.

But what to do.... I'm not sure. I know my classes will always talk about the basics... where and what to buy. And instead of going to the grocery store to buy my ingredients, they are coming from small local vendors as much as possible. Sugar, spices can be a problem.

I think we take the time and effort to cook. If there is a birthday party, you bake the cake, not HyVee. If there is a gathering, you bake the cookies from scratch, not a box.

And we must try to eat in season. And it is possible to do. We are blessed with a year-round market here. We will not get everything we want locally grown.... but we can do a lot!!!

Catherine -- it would have been nice to meet you too. I love your photos!!! And pears.... if you want to make some pear cider, drop me a note. Maybe we can arrange a time that you can come out and squeeze them. Pear butter is also very good.
melanie said…
You don't need another soapbox; just don't get off this one anytime soon!

Do you know I spoke to a woman from Boston the other day who told me I was a liar to say I raised my own food, and fed myself from the farm. She found it impossible to believe I didn't spend hundreds of dollars each month on soda, bread, chips, frozen dinners etc. and all the other "staples" I guess she figures everyone eats...I tried to defend myself, telling her I can, and even grow food in the cooler weather, and she said "there was no way I could grow anything at this time of year". I mentioned cold frames and the like, and there was complete silence on her end of the phone.


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