Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Power of Food

Food provides far more than nutritious fuel for our bodies. It provides a trigger for wonderful memories, an outlet for creativity, a chance to express our care for others, and the opportunity for bonding with those around us.

The memories in which food plays a part are some of the strongest in the human experience. This explains many of the “traditional foods” that are intrinsic to our celebrations. Think about it…don’t the smells of the holiday kitchen grant each of us a quick trip down memory lane?

Personally, food memories always call to mind my maternal grandmother. No one ever left without a “care package” from her kitchen. She offered food and drink to everyone who stopped by…even the mailman! On hot summer days, she would have an iced glass at the ready when he would stop to deliver the mail. She would then serve cookies and cold drinks to him and my grandfather as they sat on the porch and talked for a while before he continued his appointed rounds. She also encouraged me in my own kitchen endeavors.

Food allows us to fellowship with other human beings. There is something special in the breaking of bread together that draws us closer to those with whom we are sharing. Certain foods cause us to recall shared experiences; this in turn draws us closer to one another.

Years ago, my mother-in-law gave me a gift that would change my life. She gave me a box of her old cookbooks. She loved to cook and I appreciated her sharing her expertise with me. I knew that I had finally “arrived” when she gave me “Grandma Womack’s” roll recipe and entrusted me with the responsibility of making rolls for holiday meals. Needless to say, neither one of us ever imagined that my bread making would morph into thousands of loaves over the years as I baked for Market sales. While that phase of my life is behind me, and mother-in-law has passed on, I continue to think of her every time I make any type of yeast bread.

As a new wife, I knew little about actual food preparation. The Boss and I spent long hours watching the cooking shows on PBS and re-creating foods he had enjoyed along life’s way. In short, food allowed us a bonding that few other things could have. We both learned a lot, and I discovered I actually had a previously unknown talent. New recipes still offer the opportunity for creativity and expression.

Growing up in the country, in the South, the gift of food is the remedy for every one of life’s events. New baby? Take a casserole. Someone sick? Take food. Someone die, get married, have a bad day? Take food….LOTS of food. Holidays, birthdays, just because…take food. When you don’t know what else to do…take food. A home-cooked meal says “I LOVE YOU” like nothing else.

I find personal satisfaction in giving a gift of food. This is particularly true when sweets are given as a “thank you” gift. There is a reason for the old saying “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”! Home-grown food takes that one step further. Not only was the recipient thought about as the food was prepared, but even as it was growing.

To grow food allows us to have some small part in the rest of the human experience. It is an awesome responsibility to know that what we do here on the farm has the power to influence others in their thinking about food, their celebratory feasts, and their expressions of care for those around them.

That’s a responsibility we take quite seriously when growing, harvesting and processing the food products around here.

The food products we sell are the same ones we enjoy eating ourselves. When we plant and harvest and present things for sale at the Market, it is with the intention of bringing the very best we can to the table, to share in the experience of life.

So, as you gather ‘round the holiday table, know that we thought of you and yours while growing the food for your celebrations.


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