Saturday, January 9, 2010

We need to teach and to learn

We take a lot of things for granted. Our way of life is encompassed with so many blessings. We are together as a family every day. I don’t have to run off to work somewhere off the farm, and we sit down to eat together as a family three times a day. We eat food that is good for us, not the standard American fair.

Anne and I watched Food, Inc. recently (via Amazon Video on Demand). It’s a sobering portrayal of commercial/industrial food and the multi-national companies behind its production. We were already aware of a lot of things in the film. In fact, we stopped eating commercial meat, dairy, and poultry products in 1996 because of concerns about that whole industry. We studied and learned more about the appalling treatment of animals in these industrial production facilities and desired even less to consume their products. Who would want to eat beef that was fed rendered animal refuse and chicken litter?

We took steps when we lived on the outskirts of Bloomington, Illinois, to raise our own food. When we bought our house there, it came with a 3/4 acre lot across the street in front of the house (it was previously the right of way for an interurban railroad). I worked up two large garden plots, and we grew a lot of vegetables. We planted fruit trees and bushes, but we moved before we were able to enjoy any harvest from them.

We moved here to Kentucky in order to further pursue out desire to grow our own food, including animal products. We have structured our lives around what is important: faith, family, and food. It is a blessing from God that we enjoy what we have here, and we are thankful every day. But, there are so many who don’t have the knowledge to make significant differences in their lives, to grow their own food, to refuse to be in debt, to champion the importance of family time together.

What about those individuals who are ‘caught’ in a trap of debt and low wages? What about for the families for whom it is more economically feasible to buy a hamburger than an apple? We want to see changes in our food industry, and consumers have a lot to say about how things go in this industry. But, when people are enslaved by debt which has been pushed on us through national and local economic policies (our economy is based upon debt – for example, consumer spending does not take into account whether any of the things bought are actually “paid for,” only that they were purchased somehow, usually via debt encouraged through low interest rates), the options readily available to them are severely limited.

It’s easy for me to garden, hunt, raise animals, etc. I not only have the knowledge about how to do so, I also have room and opportunity for all of these things. I’m not trapped in a city somewhere. Sure, even urban dwellers can grow some things, theoretically, but what is the reality of their lives as they seek to make ends meet? Do they even know that they need to? What is the path to take in order to get out of this ‘trap’ that we as a society have created in which we are dependent upon cheap “food”?

As I look at it, the need for education is apparent. Our schools aren’t teaching about ethical and responsible food consumption and production. Our churches aren’t. Our governments aren’t. The multi-national food corporations aren’t. It’s not even happening within most families. I don’t expect to change the world in a grand way with what I’m doing, but I am shaping the next generation through my children. We are setting an example for others by what we do and what we value. But, even so, I can’t take credit for the ways in which my eyes and heart have been opened. I have made choices based upon opportunities that were presented to me, opportunities that I recognized because of things I learned that made those opportunities possible, but my learning was shaped and influenced by my coming into contact with others and their knowledge.

All of us should seek to share our knowledge with others and to continue to learn from others. We’re involved in a great educational experience, and we’re all in it together. As we endeavor to change the world and bring education to others, may we each have the humility to learn from one another.


small farm girl

I'm so glad I am reading your blog. I feel the same way about our food. I am not as advanced as you are, but I'm trying to be. lol. I'm really wanting to get a milk cow so I can quit buying butter and milk. Although I am buying my butter from the Amish, I want my own. One of these days I'll get to where everything we eat is from our own place. Not sure about flour and such. I'll get there though.



I must echo small farm girls sentiments. I am also very fortunate to have found your blog. Although, I found you through your Cedar Creek blog, trying to gather as much timber frame information as possible, I have now been drawn to your blog for far greater reasons. You truly are an inspiration and a fabulous teacher. I can't begin to tell you how much I have learned.

Our experiences will vary but each small choice we make has the potential to yield large outcomes.

Thank you for always sharing your thoughts and experiences. It is comforting to correspond with like minded people.



Thank you both for your very kind comments. You are very encouraging. I want to share our experiences and efforts here in order to help others as much as possible. I'm glad that it is possible to do so through this format.

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