Friday, April 23, 2010

Food for Thought

A while back I read Michael Pollan's book An Omnivore's Dilemmna. While I haven't yet foraged for mushrooms, I did appreciate his adventures into how our food is made and where it comes from and his attempts to eat in ways that keep a close connection between the field, forest, or farm and our kitchen table. Yes, he can be a bit preachy and ponderous at times, but hear me out. Tonight, I was reading an article on thinking Christianly about economics and came across this paragraph:

What might it look like for our communities to engage with creation as a partner and not a resource? Michael Pollan gave a talk in 2007 in which he challenged his audience to imagine the world from the perspective of other species. ... Pollan tells the story of a farm in Virginia where industrial agriculture has been rejected in favour of an approach where the crops form a complex and sustainable ecosystem or permaculture. The complex relationships between the species result in organic crop yields which are multiples of the yields produced by intensively managed factory farms. Might Christians be at the leading edge of such exciting projects? What radical impact might this have on our economics?

I'm not sure if the article's author is aware that Christians ARE at the leading edge of such exciting projects. At least as far as that farm in Virginia is concerned, the Salatins are a Christian family. I'm not saying that I think we should all haul ourselves out of the cities and start living this way. By no means! A famer's life is not for everyone. And I don't think that the Salatins have "the perfect farming method," though I do find their commitment to creating a symbiotic relationship between the farmers and the animals and crops compelling. Plus, they have a consistently strong work ethic, working long hours, yet still find time to read great books. (If only I could be so productive!)

I do believe that supporting these smaller family farms is a good idea, even if our pocketbooks can only do so in small doses. Christians should be leading the way, taking on these projects when possible, but at the very least teaching our children to be good stewards and caretakers of the earth. Even if the farms aren't overtly Christian, our support of such projects might help encourage others to do the same.

During the summer, I plan to support a CSA (community-supported agriculture)/farmer's market in my neighborhood that I discovered through Local Harvest. A few years ago, I bought extra shares from those farmers and have been on the mailing list ever since. This summer I hope to visit the market each week with the boys since our usual Wednesday activity is on hiatus. I think it will be educational for the boys and a start at seeing where our food comes from. Also, since we have such great outdoor space now, I hope to plant a small garden or, at the very least, some tomatoes. (Give me a few weeks and maybe I'll do something about that.) If nothing else, I will pause more often in the produce aisle and consider how and where I spend my grocery budget and what that means for the kingdom.

(I do want to add that I understand that choices of whether or how to implement these ideas are, like education, specific for each family. Maybe you don't buy this and just want to get all your produce from Publix? Okay, that's cool, too.)

Still, I've learned over the last few years the truth that what we do with this place we live matters. The earth is the Lord's and everything in it. We have been called to be good stewards, whether in a city windowbox or a rural garden plot, and not to damage or abuse what we have been given. We're currently renting our house and I've noticed how I desire to improve it rather than let it remain as-is. (The analogy breaks down, of course, because if you own something you usually want to take care of it more since you have to fix it yourself. Perhaps it's only someone like me who would lament previous neglectful tenants and long to make it better.) It's the same with the earth, though -- our world belongs to the Lord so we should trod carefully and leave it better than when we arrived, not treat it like a garbage dump.

When we tend a garden, we are proclaiming that our role as caretakers matters. When we do research about local farmers and buy produce from a farmer who shares our stewardship values, we are supporting others who take care of the earth. When we nourish new plants with decaying compost in our backyard, it is a reminder that Christ overcame death and points us toward the day He will come again to create a new heavens and a new earth. May our gardens be redeemed into something glorious. Until then, may He find us faithful.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Win a Waffle Maker

Here is proof that we once had one of these beauties. Doesn't Gaines' grin make him look like some sort of evil-genius chef?

In hopes of winning a new one, I promised to blog about Becky's contest to win a waffle maker. She's written 1,000 posts on their blog. That's cool. Us? I have no idea how many. Not enough, probably.

I just thought I'd share how our old waffle maker met its demise: We were unpacking supplies from the car to take into our latest Apartment Life brunch sometime in the fall of 2008. Suddenly, the waffle iron, which had been sitting on the trunk of the car for some thoughtless reason, fell to the ground and broke. I think Gaines actually tried to make waffles in it one more time. Sadly, it was non-functioning and those who came looking for waffles along with their breakfast casserole were sadly disappointed. And no one came to our events ever again.

(Ok, so maybe I made that last part up.)


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Something New

A new season. A new dress. A new family picture. A new blog post.

I promised myself I wouldn't go to bed tonight without posting "something." So, here's a little something for you.

Early this morning, about 2am, I awoke to find a little boy pattering into the room. Jacob laid his tousled head on the bed and said he wanted to lie down next to me. He was whimpering. I asked him if he had a dream, and he said "Yes." Then he began describing it to me. This is a first, since I have often asked but never received an answer to the question: "What did you dream about?"

A rough paraphrase from what I hazily remember:
Me and you were walking in the woods and we were so far away from our new house we couldn't find our way back to the house. [Were you scared?] Yes. We found a car in the woods and I had to push it so you could put both hands on the wheel and drive us back home. Next time, Mommy you need to find someone else to turn the car. You need to put both hands on the wheel and go home faster.

I wish I had written it down exactly as he said it. It was so funny how he went from describing this strange dream in a scared little-boy voice to bossily telling me exactly what I should do the next time I show up in his dreams!

And then we both went back to sleep. Gaines later woke up and tried to return him to his bed, only to have him protest groggily and end up sleeping at our feet.

In other news, Ethan now has two new teeth, with more on the way. (He's up to 10, currently. He just might sleep through the night again soon. He made it from 7:30p.m. to 5 a.m. last night. Fingers crossed for more of the same.

Update: I woke up this morning just before 7am (around here, that's sleeping in) without a peep from either boy since bedtime last night. That hasn't happened in ages. I am rejoicing! And I hope it happens again!