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Lettuce Rejoice! November 18, 2021- The Need to Read

Posted on November 12th, 2021 by Tamara McMullen

November 18, 2021

The Lettuce Rejoice!

Firmly Rooted Farm's Newsletter for their Veggie Loving Farm-ily

A wee farm friend found while cleaning up the farm.

On the Farm: The Need to Read

Hello again my veggie loving friends,

Much of the past few weeks have been spent putting the farm to sleep for the winter. All the veggies have been pulled from the fields and put in storage, various landscaping tasks have been completed, and odd little jobs have been performed. Often fall is the most challenging time of year physically, and often mentally. The days become dramatically shorter, and the work is tougher, colder, wetter, and muddier. You find your body moves a little slower in the muck, and stiffer in the mornings. The glamour and glitz of a hot summer's day are far behind you, but the rewards of a season of hard work lay before you, and soon a well-deserved rest will be granted.

People who farm flow with the seasons, our lives are dictated by the sun. And in winter, we have time for rest (although some of us find ourselves consumed by school). During this time of rest, I can almost guarantee many of us will find ourselves reading. Tamara, Michelle, and I are all avid collectors of books, each of us enduring a rush of endorphins whenever we come across a new inspiring title, especially if it involves food. I’d love to share a few favourites with you now.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver tells the story of one family’s attempt to eat only locally grown food for an entire year. Kingsolver’s family navigates the trials and tribulations of maintaining a quarter-acre garden, and the life lessons found in fostering a greater connection with the food one eats. Her graceful prose seamlessly flows from the pages, evoking big dreams of locally-based self-sufficiency in your own life.

The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball is a story of two unexpected loves: the discovery of an unforeseen love for the farming life, and the other with a farmer. Kimball begins as a freelance writer living in NYC, yet an inconspicuous interaction with a farmer named Mark encourages her to give up the city life and embark on a journey of learning about animal husbandry, milking, butchering, you name it. The book provides the picture for an unbelievable vision of a full-service CSA, and the personal and practical challenges encountered along the way to achieving this dream. She follows up with the book Good Husbandry, continuing the story of their farm’s evolution several years into its being.

Redefining Rich by Shannon Hayes tells of an alternate approach to entrepreneurship that prioritizes living a life that is balanced and considers wealth in a more dynamic sense than only monetary gain. In wanting to realize a life that provides time for friends and family, ensures abundance, and allows for the gratitude of the gifts of nature, Hayes’ journey is filled with mistakes and challenges. However, she approaches each with humour and confidence, learning many lessons along her path to success. The book is an inspiration for anyone who wishes to live a life of balance, build sustainable communities, and follow an untraditional path.

So far, the books I’ve recommended are inspiring personal accounts of realizations of a life centred around food, farming, and fulfillment. But there are many books I love that take a more critical approach to agriculture as a whole. The Unsettling of America by Wendell Berry argues that farming is a cultural and spiritual practice, but that agribusiness removes farming from its cultural and spiritual roots, detaching people from a relationship with the land that values stewardship, and replacing this with a relationship that prioritizes extraction. Although published originally in 1977, Berry’s message rings truer than ever in today’s context. Similarly, Food by Jennifer Clapp contributes to an understanding of how the current global food system operates. Clapp describes the rise of the global food system, discusses corporate control, global trade rules, the commodification of food, and the effects each of these factors have on small producers and consumers, as well movements that rise in resistance. Additionally, Vandana Shiva, a champion of ecofeminist movements, seed and food sovereignty, and peasant farmers, has written more than 20 books on agroecology, water, and seeds. Her most recent book Oneness Vs. the 1% is a scathingly passionate review of corporate control in agriculture, and a call for collective reform of the agro-industrial model. I recommend these books for anyone who wishes to gain a greater understanding of the ins and outs of our current globalized food system and engage with ideas of radical change.

Honestly, I could go on about books all day, whether I've read them or wish to read them. My ultimate dream is to live a life where I have unlimited time and focus to read, absorbing endless amounts of knowledge, insight, and inspiration. My shelf is overflowing with more books than I can handle, and I often look at them longingly while inundated with assignments and lectures. Christmas break you will find my nose firmly rooted within the confines of the pages of a book, most definitely.

Kitchen Corner

Parsnips are in season, a highly underrated vegetable in my humble opinion. My favourite way to enjoy parsnips, and most root vegetables, is roasted. The trick to great roasted vegetables is to roast them with high heat with enough room between the pieces in the pan. That way you ensure you achieve some lovely crispiness and caramelization. The recipe above uses oregano and red pepper flakes, but I’m sure one could substitute for any of their favourite herbs and spices. Sage comes to mind as a favourite fall flavour. Take this recipe a little further and include roasted parsnips in a hearty fall soup!

That’s all for now folks, happy eating until next time!

Farmer Erika