One summer during college (photos above and below), I spent 6 weeks on a farm as a live-in volunteer. There I learned how to plant a garden, lay down drip tape, dig post holes and set up an electric fence, heard and milk goats, and that I never want a composting toilet in my own home. There were days when I got up before 6AM for milk duty, and one special weekend where we harvested honey. Every day at noon, the entire work crew would meet up for lunch and share a meal together. Everyone was sweaty and disgusting and electrolyte deprived, and it was one of the most enjoyable times of my life. Most importantly, a lot of what we ate came from the ground just a few yards away from the kitchen. Everybody living there was working towards common goals: the running of the farm, the health of the goats, and helping people learn how to grow food to feed the hungry.
It helped me learn just how important it is to know who and where your food comes from. Farmers work really, really hard to grow and raise their produce and livestock. Supporting local farms isn’t just a hipster trend, it’s important to the local economy and agriculture. This isn’t a forum where I want to preach or get political, so I’ll be brief: When you buy eggs from your local farmer, you know he treated those chickens with love and respect. You also know the name of his wife and his sweet grandchildren. When you buy produce from the farm a few miles north, you get to know that farmers name, his favorite crop, if the cicadas are causing trouble, and see pictures of their adorable children. You know they work long, hard, hot days to bring fresh, healthy, beautiful food to feed you and your family. And that they care what goes in your body, because they are putting the same food in their own body, and the bodies of their loved ones. And you get to be their friend. Which is why it’s important to know how to cook food (and cook it deliciously) when it’s in season, so you can enjoy it and support your local farmer!