The Slow Food movement has suggested that we replace the word 'consumer' with 'co-producer' as a way to recognize and support a less passive relationship with our food and how it is produced. When we do this, a deep alliance is revealed and a more complex and ultimately rewarding relationship is formed. One in which our dependancy is acknowledged and growers and eaters take our places beside each other in the long, noble effort to put food on the table and carry on with the business of staying alive.
The lesson for me here is that we don't live in isolation or only with the things that we choose or are comfortable with. Life is much fiercer than any nest we try to build. We can fight against this, or we can roll up our sleeves and participate in it, and celebrate it and enjoy it.
So this post is in praise of gardeners and farmers on whose instinct and knowledge and tenacity my very life depends. Thank you for your steady, patient effort as you tend to growing the things that end up on my plate or fill my house with beauty and color and fragrance. Thank you for your backbreaking work, and your daily crapshoot with the weather, insects and a fickle marketplace.
This post is also dedicated in gratitude to my father who would have been 80 today: a passionate grower of peonies and tomatoes, and a dedicated bread baker, pickler and applesauce canner. Each day of my life reveals more of what you taught me.
(Images: Dana Velden)