We have decided to start a new food challenge. For one meal a week, we will have a meal of food that we grow or food that I can legitimately say comes from our “people”.
I guess I need to describe this idea first. I don’t live in an actual community. I live in a neighborhood, and I give food to my neighbors when they come over to see what crazy thing I am doing. Last night I let neighborhood kids pet my chickens and I gave them each a carrot. It is always Halloween at my house. But we are not a community. I don’t help them with their tasks. They don’t bring me food or offer to help with my tasks. I don’t know most of their names. I try to interact like I did yesterday. But it is sort of hard because we don’t have much in common, most of them don’t want to interact, and I have social interaction issues.
But there is a small group of people who I consider my community. Close friends that I care about, who I would be happy to help with planting, harvesting or burying the body. Most of these people are in the Atlanta area, but not all of them.
So here are the rules:
Baseline – All of the major components of the meal have to be from our yard or be grown, raised, or made by people we are friends with.
-Anything that is growing in our yard right now.
-Any of our own harvest we have preserved. We have pickles, dried cowpeas, sunflower seeds, and dried beans.
-Pork from Issa (http://lovelivegrow.com/) and Joshua. We ordered a pig from them. It will be several months before this part gets added in. Any other food we buy from actual friends is good too. I need to make friends with someone who has a milk cow.
-The eggs our chickens will make, or eggs given to us by a friend. *cough, cough..Erik*
-Herbs in our yard
-A simple thing a friend grows, processes, or makes and then GIVES to us (not like buying the pork, it has to be a gift). This could be a loaf of bread –even if it has more outside ingredients than we would be allowed ourselves. I am trying to simulate what it would be like to be mostly self sufficient in a community. People in that community could give us things that we don’t have the ability to create. But this can’t be something like a friend brings us a whole meal, or taking us out to dinner. It has to be a reasonable farming community item. Something they could have grown or made themselves. Examples could be bread, muffins, wine, mead, meats they cured themselves, foods they have grown or raised.
-Salt. We have no ability to create our own salt. I guess we could go to the ocean and try to figure it out. But for now salt from the store is allowed. I am thinking I will only use salt Lori gave me for Yule, as that would fit with the idea more.
-Oils. At present we don’t grow any oil crops. We could, and I plan to in the future. But for now olive oil, butter, coconut oil, etc. are all allowed.
-Things we harvested and preserved from local sources. We have strawberry and blueberry jam from fruit we picked ourselves but did not grow. We also have peach salsa, peach chutney and some pie filling. But we can’t just go buy something from a farmer’s market.
-Honey. This one is only for now. Once we have bees, then we will only be allowed our own honey. But right now I can use local honey or honey my stepfather gives me (He has bees in middle GA. He is kind of like my people, sort of.)
– In each meal there can be one ingredient that does not fit the rules. Like I could use chicken broth if I want to make a soup. Or I could add a store-bought meat to something, or local grits. Whatever the extra ingredient is, it must be explained. It also should be as local and/or as cruelty-free as possible. This is one ingredient, not one item. So for example I can’t bake my normal bread. The bread I like to make is flour, butter, yeast, milk, eggs and salt. So that is three ingredients I don’t have – flour, yeast and milk – four if I have to buy eggs. But if a friend gave me a starter (like sourdough), then the only thing I would need would be flour for some breads.
I am going to try to make this meal happen around the same time each week. And then post a picture and explanation of the meal. Any friend who wants to donate is also invited to eat with us.
The world I am hoping to weave here is one where I sit down with friends over a meal wrought with our work. We laugh, talk, and learn a little about each other. I want to grow a tighter community with people who are passionate about this. I’ll be grateful for the gifts my friends give me and feel good for what I give them. Eating together is an ancient and beautiful ritual that has been lost in our fast-paced world. We have so little connection with where our food comes from and there is so much food. I remember food meaning more to me when I was a child living in pretty serious poverty in coal country. The venison my father hunted,our garden, the maple syrup we harvested and made all felt so important.
I’m hoping this fosters a sense of urgency about my homestead. Sometimes I don’t work as hard as I should. Seeds get in late, weeds grow, and bugs run wild. Food has been lost because I just left it sitting. A few sparse meals will help. I also think this will increase my own sense of accomplishment about what I do. The fact that I think I can do this means I must have confidence in my homesteading.