I freak’n loved this book. I love her heart, her honesty, her sassiness, her capacity to weave a lyrical, lucid, enthralling no-holds-barred personal narrative into her poetic and perfect-pitched understanding of food and food culture. I recommend this book to anyone who has either A) lived a life of twists and turns, B) Wishes they had or C) Simply loves food and good story writing. Bravo for the goodness of grit and the heart to tell it all. She is my new best friend!!!!!
The leg, she is still hanging. I will take a picture soon but I just wanted to get back to you quickly. I’m moving her over to Fred’s house (the fellow I wrote about who helped me) to stay cool in his basement over the summer. I did have it in another friend’s basement but the hoof and all was freaking out their kid so I moved in into my garden house over the winter. Now its back to a basement. I think fred says we should wait another year or two which sounds good. The leg is massive and aside from a few minor mold spots (nothing I even wince at anymore being the old timer that I am now) it’s looking and smelling real good. Since you asked I will make my next post (or the one after that) about the lovely leg. She’s a looker.
I think a couple of families might share the expense of building a small shed or rent a storage space and keep many of these stored foods safe for the winter. There may be a bit of repetition in our menus but so what? It DOES make for easier cooking and menu design which is something real everyday cooks appreciate. To reproduce the plethora of eating opportunities that exists in mainstream food systems with a those being produced locally sorta misses the point for me. Yeah- it can be exciting as hell to eat nettles (now $8,00 a pound when folks would look at you crazy for wanting to forage them) and pea shoots (really?) but has anyone looked in their fridge lately? I bet we still have tons of stuff we just don’t eat and buy on a whim. So 100 pounds of potatoes and 100 pounds of winter squash? You bet.
On this point I could not be disagree more. But then I have based my whole body of work on staying out of stores as best as I can and for good reason.
Do we really need the overly packaged, overly produced, overly marketed, fossil-fuel dependent, market economy diatribe that is infused in darn near every item on the grocer’s shelf? Can we not imagine ourselves as producers and not solely as consumers? Must we be herded weekly through aisles of over priced (you are paying for all the middlemen and jingly, gleaming, oh-so-hip cuteness) or funky food (freaky chickens and sad produce) that sits on these shelves as a mirror of our total cluelessness. Can we not separate ourselves from the near century of agricultural glad handling that has allowed the monopolization of our food system into a few products that while appearing individual and privately held are likely more subsidiaries of a few major players? Can we not deny the abusive vertical integration that controls the food manufacturing field and denies small producers a livelihood or the fight for shelf space that most small producers must cow tow and kiss ass to get? Can we not respect the reality of limited incomes set against a $9.00 jar of jam or $12 jar of pickles (I have seen both) and recognize that stores, their stores, may not be the way to move a food justice system forward?
Give me a farm and a pitchfork, a seed or a shovel, and I will be living large in ways no grocery aisle could every offer. Yes, we are urban and the opportunity to dig in the dirt does not always show itself but with all the good farmers and farmer’s markets out there (and struggling I might add) the opportunity to support, and teach, something out side the package and grocery store is not only all around us but exactly what the people (aka the 99%) and this planet needs. Our stores - not theirs. Our self determination, our self reliance, our knowledge, skills and future. It can be done.
Now how can a person get a message like that and not respond? Honestly sweet Michelle, I cried. How mysterious the world is. Thank you!!
Georgia??? I lived in Americus Georgia for five years and was Millard Fuller’s assistant when I worked at Habitat for Humanity. I know the South and those tall trees you mentioned. I liked my time there in many ways but left in 1997 after my then husband passed away. Didn’t think the South was were I wanted to finally end up but I still have good friends there. I have since visited and somewhere in these culinate posts is one on that trip. If you ever get to Americus you must eat at Grannies - holy hell if that fried chicken and all the sides are not good. Also check out Koinonia - its a small Christian community (on of the longest running communes I believe) but they have an incredible gardener there - or did. Actually, it ain’t much to look at but I would go from time to time. Millard Fuller is buried there close to Clarence Jordan who founded that community. It was, in fact, the motivation for Millard starting Habitat. Today Millard’s vision continues at the Fuller Center (as distinguished from Habitat proper) and if you ever go say hello to Sharon Tarver for me -- we were best buds and she will tell you what sort of a “mess” I was. Love that word.
And who can resist Plains? Odd for sure but Jimmy still preaches Sunday School. Of course being a N.Y. Jew myself it WAS odd to listen to him speak of the “stiff necks” but that’s another story. I once gave Rosylynn Carter my sweet tomato chutney and she liked it. My, my, this is taking me back.
Frankly, I am always flattered when folks like the book and, I admit, that introduction is a bit of inspirational writing but I warn you, I go off on the crazy tip at times cause, well, I’m a bit eccentric or just well traveled. I write of the broken and odd experiences of my life because I think we all have them, or many people have them. I write of them as parables of society’s brokeness. Thrown off our land (we have all immigrated from somewhere), caste out to define ourselves in the “new” world, sensitive but unaware of the cultural contexts around us, wanting to belong but feeling all alone, separated from tribe and clan or just family as we hunt for definition and careers in the marketplace (or just a way to pay the bills), encouraged to exist in a first world narrative but aware of all the others that live outside the good graces of privilege, and always, always trying to make sense of the seemingly senseless. Winners? Losers? And now a planet heating up? Well, a sistah can get twitched here and there.
But the good news is, householding and living close to the bone has revealed a million wonderful things to me and revived my heart. Not that the world is not facing a perilous journey now but I have found my way toward solutions - if only in my backyard. First here and then beyond. Which is not to say I am not still odd but I am happy. And why not? I get notes like this and feel like all the searching and thinking and writing has made another person somewhere feel a little less alone. Good grief if that is not a gift.
So thanks and best of luck in Decatur. As folks used to say, Georgia is actually three states - North GA, South GA and Atlanta. After living there a piece you get what they mean. And what my brother used to say about GA’s culinary sensibilities.....If they don’t fry it, they’ll put sugar on it. Of course he never ate at Grannies so ignore him.
I always worry that my nostalgia for the “life” outpaces the reality of living the life. But were I either a) a younger woman or b) had a partner who was really into it, I would give it a go in a hot minute. But alas I am urban bound making as much out of it as I can. Good for you and the Great Horned Owls. May you enjoy your vacations together. I gotta say, the notion of a porch in the country is a real attraction to me. Sitting out on my city house porch is not nearly as pretty.
Hey Bill. You are right. Wendell was once a lonely voice. Now when he speaks he is speaking to the choir. He is a great spirit holder. It would be a dream come true to share a meal with him one day. To talk, to ask, to laugh. But reading his work and thinking about the soulfulness of his message is good enough for me. Oh, I did meet him once in Seattle and gave him my book which was in large part inspired by him. It was a happy day.
Hey Anonymous and Sally,
I have always said that householding is not gender specific so I’m with you there.
We seem to make the right to good food elitist here but mostly because it has gotten so expensive to buy fresh and local. We are trying to unwind it all and make good food not only affordable but accessible to all. Can be a challenge but we are all trying.
So glad you liked this article. And glad you remembered our conversation. I know you were wondering (if only for a minute) who the nut was asking for charts and wandering around. Thanks for being so gracious and giving up a little time to talk about your programs. I really enjoyed my time in Hardwick and imagined a return but then woke up to snow in September and thought.....well, you guys got heart. I did grow up back east and spent summers there (actually 1969 summers in Hardwick) during one of the early waves of hippie onslaughts and still have friends from the Bronx that live in your parts. So the pilgrimage was about many things. Which is to say,though our visit was unexpected it was one of the highlights and I thank you.
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