I’ve developed a relationship with the food I eat.
I don’t mean that in some weird way, just that I grow my food, preserve it, and eat from my garden’s produce year round. Not exclusively by any stretch of the imagination, no. But, I have been working toward that end.
Because of health issues that spurred me toward this relationship to the land and food production, I’ve learned something.
Store bought produce has no flavor. At best it tastes like nothing, and at worst, it’s tough and bitter. I don’t want to eat anything fitting that description, so why would a child, who is less motivated by guilt and not at all concerned with making up for that ice cream and peanut butter? They wouldn’t!
Except my kids are weird.
My kids devour vegetables. Raw, fresh in season, no chemicals, straight from our garden veggies.
But I noticed something- it’s not ALL vegetables. And I don’t even mean they love carrots, but hate broccoli. I mean they will eat MY sugar snap peas, and MY spinach, and MY green beans, and NOT what I buy in the store, unless it’s seasoned and buttered beyond recognition.
What gives food it’s flavor?
Nutrients. Minerals. Vitamins.
Not the synthetic capsuled things from the supplement aisle; the naturally occurring, in the dirt, good for you microbes and nutrients.
Our grocery stores are chalk full of food devoid of nutrition. It’s why we can eat a 10 lb salad and still be hungry- that food didn’t do anything for us; it had no nutritional value. That’s why we add meats and eggs and cheese and nuts and salad dressing- to make it taste like something and give it substance, right?
But my garden is different. My soil is different. The topsoil is created organically by wood chips composting over time into my soil. It’s aided by the most dense population of earthworms I’ve ever encountered. It’s given life by fungal hyphae running throughout the wood chip layer. And it grows the sweetest tasting vegetables I’ve ever had.
Home grown tomatoes are fabulous…but MY homegrown tomatoes? Psh. Don’t even come at me with that other stuff.
A couple things of note though.
1) my produce is generally smaller than grocery store produce. Why? It’s heirloom, organically grown, no chemicals ever. It’s not all pumped up on miracle grow- it’s food, fed from my soil, which in turn feeds me. To offset that, I grow more. Eventually as my soil continues to improve, so will the size of the produce.
2) my produce has bug bites. It’s not chemically or genetically enhanced to ward off bugs. In fact, I encourage ecosystem within the garden. Bugs eat the produce, my chickens eat the bugs (and my Swiss chard, because let’s face it, it’s both beautiful and delicious.) And everyone wins (moreso the chickens).
3.) My produce has a shorter shelf life than store bought veg. I no sooner pick my romaine and carry it back to the table than it is wilted and sad. Because it’s not been sprayed with any chemicals and is organically grown, there are no artificial preservatives and the enzymes necessary to break down the food in our bodies are active immediately upon harvest. So we only pick what we need to eat (or can) and we eat it fresh! And we like it that way.
4.) My garden flourishes later and longer than others. I don’t use any artificial fertilizer so my plant starts start tiny. They don’t really flourish until the “standard” growing season. I look around and wonder how people are having tomatoes and watermelon in May, but I try not to let it get me down- anything worth having is worth the work and wait. And oh, my tomatoes and watermelons are delicious.
5.) My garden will get better and better with time and will require less and less effort because of compounding returns of the effort I put in today. That’s how God made it to be! No body wants to sit fat and happy in their early twenties, only to wake up and realize that they’re 65 and having to work 3 jobs just to make ends meet! Or at least, they shouldn’t. Nah! You knock out that hard labor when your body and health are still forgiving of the effort. That way when you’re old and tired, you can sit back and enjoy the fruit of your labor and spoil the grandbabies with the best strawberries they’ve ever had!
I’ve learned to watch my animals also. If an animal won’t eat something, especially when it comes to my dogs, who eat just about anything, there’s likely a reason. If a dog isn’t going to waste their time on what you’re eating, you probably shouldn’t either.