In her August 29, 2018 column, “Porch Swing Perspective,”* Camille Kendall pointed out most folks today don’t realize where the food they eat truly comes from; not the land, the labor of the farmer and his help, nor the delicate balance of water, sunlight, even wind necessary to produce the crops that yield food for us all.
“Most Americans today are three generations removed from the farm: fruit, vegetables and meat grown on the farm go to a processor, then to the grocery store and finally to the family table.” Kendall’s statement is thought-provoking in that it considers each “set of hands” involved in getting food to the table as a generation, probably engendered by the fact that not so long ago, our country was a nation of farmers and ranchers.
So many of us, while our grandparents may have farmed (or at least had huge gardens) grew up in urban areas and really didn’t think too much about where those bell peppers, strawberries or summer squash came from originally. City kids may even think that somewhere in the back of each grocery store the vegetables pop up from the shelves, washed, plastic-clad and labeled for sale.
Lucky for us in Northwest Tennessee our kids don’t have to believe the myth. All our kids have to do is look out the house, car or school bus windows to see farmers at work; huge machines wresting crops from acres of furrowed dirt, eighteen-wheelers rushing an unending stream of harvested grains to storage, or watch neighbors decorate for the fall using locally grown pumpkins and sourced hay.
Better yet, we should literally let our kids ‘play in the dirt,’ and learn just how those tiny seeds turn into plants that bees and wasps help pollinate and then the rain provides nutrients for the final products – fruits and vegetables to keep our bodies and minds functioning and healthy.
You really appreciate that strawberry shortcake for dessert when it’s your knees and back that bent to the level of those little plants, your hands and fingers that snapped each berry free of its stem, washed the rich soil off before removing the green tops and then placed the ripe fruit atop the cake with a dollop of whipped cream. Perhaps it’s that labor that ‘adds the savor to the flavor.’
Let’s help our kids add savor to the flavor of their meals by bringing a little bit of the farm to the school. Maybe while they’re raising their vegetables, we’ll be lucky enough to be raising our next-generation farmers.
Food for thought –
*Kendalls’ column is published regularly in “The Messenger,” Union City, TN and her website is: www.camillekendall.com