Food, I love it...I love growing it, cooking it, eating it. I love thinking about food and I even love buying it. I love nourishing myself and loved ones with home cooked goodness made with love.
I grew up eating meat my parents shot and processed, and veggies from the backyard, which were then brought to the table to be enjoyed as a family. Growing up in a small town in Montana, we didn’t go out to eat very much simply because there wasn’t a restaurant in town. We made our meals and enjoyed them around the dinner table every night. This has had a huge effect on how I live my life today. I love everything about the home cooked meal process: from the creative conception, the preparation, to the simple act of sharing a table and enjoying the meal with my family. Now, my family is the “Alf’s Crew”: a crowd of 20 powder hungry ski bums, but for the past 5½ months in Leavenworth it was just Tim and I enjoying our meals around the table of our amazing but temporary home.
Food is an essential part of our humanly existence. The word alone has the power to conjure up a multitude of different thoughts, feelings, and images depending on the culture, class, and nation of the individual doing the thinking. Food has an infinite range of type, quality, and every other value you could think of, from wild foraged berries to million acre mono-crops to container grown herbs.
I love making food a large part of my life because it brings me so much joy and happiness to take part in the full circle act of planting and watching a seed grow, to the preparation of a meal for someone I love. There are some aspects of life that are out of your control, but what we put into our bodies is not one of them!
When we arrived in Leavenworth in early May we were so happy with our rental house accommodations and the town we would be living in for the summer. The house had everything we needed including a spacious back yard containing tall trees, a fire pit, and a porch/yoga spot with a roof. The only thing this home lacked was a garden. But in just a couple of weeks into our summer stay we found flyers around town advertising community garden space in town with plots for rent. Thirty dollars and we had our own 4’x8’ garden plot for June-October. A little garden of our own to plant, weed, water, watch, and love.
The E. Lorene Community Garden is blocks from downtown and just a short bike ride from home. For the Beach Barn Reserve, this was the first year the garden became a reality. At 10 years in the making, it all started with the donation of an acre plot from a long time resident’s will. The acre plot contains 30 plus plots, some of the bed raised higher than others for the elderly and wheelchair bound, with plenty of room for other improvements like fruit trees and a patio space. The garden is surrounded by a tall fence and complete with a beautiful gate built with a bunch of old garden implements. Best of all, each plot is equipped with an automated irrigation system that made our extended stays in the mountains worry-free. Overall this community garden was yet another testament of the benefits that food can have with a community. The small plot created connections to our new community, entertainment, and food!
Even with a late start, we were able to grow many edibles from seed. The seeds were in by early June and the first frost came sometime in late September. We grew: salad greens, radishes, beets, carrots, yellow squash, lots of tomatoes, Thai basil, and calendula flowers. (The squash, tomatoes, and basil from starters bought from farms near town at the market.)
Humanity’s relationship with food is the most direct way in which we interact with the Earth. In fostering a healthy relationship to our food production we are stewarding a more healthy and sustainable environment. The most powerful relationship is to grow your own food, next is to take part in any aspect of where your food comes from, then starts the buying: markets, food co-ops, supermarkets, restaurants, fast food joints. The hierarchy of these relationships to food production offers us numerous avenues to become more involved, from buying certified organic, local, direct from farms, to harvesting the food yourself.
We did eat some food we grew this summer, but the majority of our fresh calories came from local farms at the Leavenworth Farmers Market, and the rest came from bulk food bins at Winco and the local natural food store, Sage Mountain. The bottom-line is that I am thinking about where my food comes from, doing the best I can when I buy food, and preparing my meals with love.
I now live at 9,240’ in the middle of the Albion basin in the Wasatch Mountains. Although I wish I had a basement of canned veggies and window herbs in my room, that didn’t happen. I am just going to do my best within my means and life style. This winter I will forgo lots of conveniences and city living for the simplicity of mountain life. I will also eat and prepare meals supplied with food distributed by Sysco, which have been trucked and transported from all around the country (and other countries), up the Little Cottonwood Canyon, and then driven by snow cat to the hungry mouths of the Alf’s Crew. I will enjoy my meals with my fellow dorm mates, and cook dinners for the crew with joy and love. Although I would much rather be eating food that I had a hand in growing, when I eat food distributed and delivered by Sysco, I have the chance use my dollar to show support for locally grown veggies, sustainable grains, and organic dairy. And although I might be dealing with a huge corporation that I don’t think will notice my hippy persuasions, when we use our money to show this support, ultimately our food system, and the market, will react to increased demand for healthier, and more sustainably grown food.
HURRAY for food and community, backyard, and windowsill gardens everywhere!
Ever wonder what to do with Thai Basil? I discovered this recipe after the harvest of a summer’s growth of Thai basil from our garden plot.
2 C Thai basil
3-4 Tbs dry roasted peanuts
1 Tbs sugar
1.5 Tbs dark sesame oil
1 Tbs fish sauce
1 Tbs rice wine vinegar
1 tsp crushed red pepper (more or less depending on your
individual spice likes)
2 cloves garlic
I used a food processor to blend all ingredients. I am sure any blender/mixer will do.
This made one meal for three hungry people when I combined this recipe with a package of rice noodles. And it was delicious!