Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Food Matters

My wife and I recently returned from a four-month stint in southwest Missouri, where we lived and worked on an organic farm in exchange for room, board and an education in natural agriculture. It was a great experience, and I would heartily recommend WWOOFing to anyone interested in farming, food, or even just cheap travel.

Being in a grocery store now feels very different than it used to. Turnips, swiss chard, arugula or even bak choy do not intimidate as they once did. Having seen animals as small as turkeys or geese and as large as a hog weighing several hundred pounds get butchered, and of course helping out myself, cuts of meat are not the obscure, inert puzzle pieces they once were, but recognizable parts of a once living whole. The prospect of cooking a whole chicken is much more welcome, especially since now I know one carcass should be good for at least three meals, if handled properly.

The wife and I are now weighing the possibilities of starting our own farm in the future, and in the mean time investigating internships (ATTRA has a database of them, most with a stipend for living expenses) and even programs like Food Corps to get some more experience:

Lately I've been considering the spiritual nature of agriculture, and particularly how conscientious CSAs might be used as vehicles to bring together people of different races and creeds. Of course, as many religious teachers remind us, any craft or science, conscientiously engaged in, can be an act of worship:
Strive as much as possible to become proficient in the science of agriculture, for in accordance with the divine teachings the acquisition of sciences and the perfection of arts are considered acts of worship. If a man engageth with all his power in the acquisition of a science or in the perfection of an art, it is as if he has been worshipping God in churches and temples.
-- Abdu'l-Baha.

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