So it’s July 31.
What have we learned (besides how difficult it is to perfect a simple loaf of homemade bread)?
The lessons have been many, and all have been very meaningful, and an accurate way to sum them up in a simple statement eludes me. At minimum, the highlights include:
- understanding how much easier it is to eat seasonally and locally—even in a tricky climate—than I’d originally imagined … certainly at this time of year
- investigating produce we’d never seen or even heard of
- gaining insight into the vast variety of foods that can be—and are—produced by members of our community
- comprehending how much more is involved in our food production that we’d imagined … and understanding just how much more we have to learn
- learning how much fun it is to flip the concept of meal planning on its head—that instead of planning a meal and then writing a shopping list required for it, we have learned to creatively devise meals based upon what we are able to find that is fresh and local—and how satisfying that is
- discovering the unexpected sense of community by becoming acquainted with those who grow our food … and how incredible it feels to be able to support them in their efforts
I have put considerable thought into why I enjoy visiting farms and farmers’ markets so much; quite literally, they have become something to which I very much look forward. And I’ve realized that it is not only because we never know what we’ll find there or what happy new discoveries we’ll make; it is also because just about everyone we meet at farms and farmers’ markets smiles at us. This is in marked contrast to our typical grocery store experiences, where those who sell the food have absolutely no hand or personal investment of any kind in the food’s production. At farms and farmers’ markets, it is apparent how proud the farmers are about the foods they’ve produced; they are eager to answer questions, excited to engage in dialogue, and graciously accept sincere compliments. I have realized that, without even actively seeking it, we have developed camaraderie and even something resembling genuine friendships along the way as a result of this project. We have found in our community farmers a shared love of great food and excellent nutrition, of environmental stewardship, of care and protection for sentient beings. It is something akin to unintentional activism … and until now, I’d never thought of it in such terms.
So tomorrow is August 1 … and we will start our day with a cup of coffee. I will sink my teeth into the chocolate I’ve been fantasizing about for weeks. We’ll once again enjoy such delights as oatmeal and nuts and perhaps the occasional avocado or banana. We’re looking forward to once again using spices; even basic black pepper and cinnamon will seem to dramatically inspire our dishes. I just might crack into a bottle of wine bought on a recent trip to Virginia sometime soon.
But, to our surprise, the arrival of August 1 does not feel like the saving grace we’d originally anticipated it to be, and we also don’t feel as though the month of July was fraught with deprivation or that it was a miserable test of wills. This, too, has been a pleasant surprise. In fact, we plan to continue feeding ourselves very much in this same way indefinitely; while we will reincorporate some out-of-region offerings, we are committed to acquiring the majority of our food as we have done throughout this month. In fact, I already cannot imagine having to rely exclusively on grocery stores again, and I very much hope I never have to.
I have been so grateful for this experience and for everything I have learned.