FOOD: A LOVE STORY by Hardscrabble Farmer for The Burning Platform

I’ve been eating food most of my life. I can honestly say that in more than sixty years I have never faced more than a few days without a bite to eat and then as a result of either sickness or injury. As an American it wasn’t something I really gave much thought to. In our home, as a child, the refrigerator and the cabinets were regularly filled, and if we were away from home at meal time we’d find something to eat wherever we were. It was the same for everyone I knew- friends and families, neighbors and classmates.

Sometimes I ate communally, in school and then the military, sometimes alone, but food itself, throughout that span of time was ubiquitous and affordable. I was unaware, except for a few exceptions like fishing and gardening done by my family, where all that food came from beyond the shelves of the grocery store. It wasn’t until we bought the farm when our children were young that we came to understand everything that went into the production and effort required to fill them up. The skills that were needed daily took years for us to learn, and the outputs depended upon far more than our efforts alone.

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It is my opinion that what we have been doing these past years is something that is going to become far more common in the years ahead, like it or not. As the purchasing power of fiat currencies fall and the cost of fuel continues to rise, the realization will slowly begin to dawn those counted on the good times to continue forever, that perhaps they were mistaken. We are by the standards of the modern American Agricultural Industry, a non-entity. We raise poultry, sheep, hogs and cattle.

We have herding dogs and barn cats, a sugar house where we produce maple syrup every Spring. We care for gardens and pastures, orchards and ponds and host countless numbers of wildlife besides. We feed hundreds of animals and several dozen families including our own, but compared to the big producers we can hardly be called a farm.

I am by no means an expert on food and nutrition. I have no degrees, pursued no advanced training, and haven’t done much research beyond the experiences of the average Boomer. Growing up in a middle-class home on the East Coast during the 1960’s and 70’s provided me with access to a fairly wide variety of food. My parents tended towards the commercial, pre-packaged, canned and frozen assortments found in most grocery stores. We were brand loyal in our household; Pepperidge Farm breads, Mazzola oil, Wise potato chips, Coca-Cola and Hamburger Helper.

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