Monday, April 29, 2013

I Was LOCAL When LOCAL Wasn't Cool

**My apologies to Barbara Mandrell for adulterating her song lyrics for my entry today.** 
If you don't know what I'm talking about...scroll down and watch the video.

We always ate LOCAL when I was a kid…
          …yep, back there at the dawn of time…
                            …home-grown, home-made described nearly everything we ate.
That's ME...1968...and little brother
 waiting for the next garden job

Dad raised beef, chickens, hogs and rabbits. There was a bank of freezers in the garage where you could find nearly any cut of meat you desired.  Mom had a huge garden, chock-full of all sorts of vegetables. There were even more freezers for those, as well as shelves and shelves of canned goods. We spent a portion of summer vacation gathering fruits from nearby orchards when we weren’t weeding or picking rocks…or putting up veggies from the garden.  We canned all sorts of things, froze fruits and vegetables, ground and packed hamburger, made sausage and bacon and even rendered lard.  We had chickens that provided both meat and eggs. Mom kept a flock of goats, and yes, we drank goat milk on a regular basis. (she even froze that….ewwwwww!)  One winter, she even ground the wheat and made all the bread.

I took a lot of kiddin'
'Cause I never did fit in
now look at everybody tryin' to be what I was then
I was local, when local wasn't cool

There was very little in the way of packaged, processed food in the cupboards.  If we didn’t grow it or make it…sometimes we just didn’t have it.  (although my grandmother was known to bring “care packages” of contraband on a somewhat regular basis) We were made of “good pioneer stock” according to one of my great-uncles. Our way of life was more than a little amusing to him and he always sang “home, home on the range…” when we went to visit.

When I was in high school, my mother returned to the workforce and all the time-consuming food preservation and preparation tasks became distant memories.  We then began a season of what my brother referred to as “career-mother meals”, fully embracing the wide array of convenience foods available. Much to my brother’s delight, I might add.

All that emphasis on homegrown was in no way an attempt to be cool or trendy.  As a matter of fact, the whole homegrown/homemade thing made us more than a little odd in the eyes of the children around the lunch table at school.  No one EVER offered to trade lunch items with the kid who had a beef tongue sandwich on whole wheat bread and carried GOAT milk in that lunchbox thermos. (NEVER!)  In our case, perhaps the main reason for the emphasis on any sort of self-sufficiency and sustainability was because my folks were incredibly frugal and focused on saving every penny possible. While it made us odd in the eyes of our peers, we did indeed learn a great deal about survival from our childhood.

I was local, from my head down to my boots
I still act, and look the same
What you see ain't nothin' new
I was local, when local wasn't cool

We were gardening and sourcing other things locally long before our move to the this. 

When the girls were just little, bitty things, we began to teach them the benefits of growing food and being self-sufficient.

putting up green beans

Market Opening Day 1998

The move to the Valley only intensified things.  We did EVERYTHING locally, including selling!
The Boss and I have done our own stint of self-sufficient homesteading. I milked cows (daily and by hand for TEN YEARS), made cheese, bread, and sauerkraut. We’ve raised chickens, ducks, goats, cows, hogs and turkeys. We learned animal husbandry and how to butcher those animals.  As a family, we planted, picked, canned, froze, and dried all sorts of food for years.  At one point, the only things we did NOT produce here on the hill were flour, sugar and the other odd baking ingredients (oil, salt, baking powder/soda and chocolate chips) and honey.  The things we didn't raise ourselves, we did source locally. I even made all our soap at one point, but finally "cracked" when we ran out of home-made toothpaste.

Home-grown/home-made demanded that our entire lives focus on providing food…all the time. Meal preparation took a good chunk of time every day. Eating out was a very rare occasion indeed.  I won’t lie---it was hard.  Upon arriving for a visit, one of our friends remarked that she thought she had arrived at The Little House on the Prairie.

They called us country bumpkins
For stickin' to our roots
I'm just glad we're in a country
Where we're all free to choose
‘cause I was local, when local wasn't cool!

While I know we all enjoyed it, learned a lot from it, and we still embrace a lot of our “old ways”…those experiences make us very appreciative of the modernity of our current lives. I would like to add that if anyone understands the challenges that the LOCAL food movement faces, it would be me.  While it sounds great in theory, there are many facets that proponents haven't fully considered. (more about that some other time)

But, I do take pride in the fact that I can say...with absolutely NO uncertainty...

I was truly LOCAL when LOCAL wasn't cool! 

Again, my apologies to Barbara Mandrell for adulterating her lyrics for my entry today.

Surely you remember this?

Have you got a question?  Want to make a comment?  Please do! I welcome your input.

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