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My grandfather was a man who cherished every morsel; he ate slowly and with purpose. As a child, I remember he was always the last to finish—and we did not leave the table until he was done.
The midday meal was the most substantial and reverently honored. We sat and let him have the last indulgence. Comprised of garden vegetables, fresh or preserved, small animals, chickens, roots and bitter greens, my grandparents harvested and fermented many things.
Since sheltering in place, I have been examining how I eat and remembering the ways of my grandfather and wonder…
I have been attempting to reconcile my place in the world. As it applies to my heritage, racial equality or lack thereof, and social justice. Of course, also realizing how food fits into the equation.
This was a personal post for me to write and may not be for the faint-hearted.
Growing up in Iowa, I remember shared slaloms and slides in a wintery universe. Some of my earliest memories are of riding a cold, solemn and wide toboggan down a small incline—Jefferson Hill. A broken wrist.
The land around me was dotted with farms where families lived, raised children and cherished the land. Picture voluptuous mounds routed out by slow rivers meandering from the drift-less places. Wisconsin’s dales—the Mississippi River—The Cedar—The Missouri were around us. These confluences of rivers once defined the tribes of mid-North America.
I was one of the wandering ones who left. When I was young, I often wished to be a gypsy or trapeze artist. I wanted to dance with fire, stay warm and get away from the territory I knew as Iowa.
The place where I was conceived.
Iowa is actually a Sioux word, meaning “the sleepy people.”
The Dakota Sioux they were one of several tribes that could be found throughout Iowa. The others included the Ioway, the Illini, the Otoe, and the Missouria.
The modern concept of agroforestry emerged early in the 20th century but planting trees and shrubs amongst fields and furrows is very ancient indeed.
The Romans were the first to write about it. But integrating trees with crops and animals is an ancient practice, likely dating back over 10,000 years ago when our ancestors first became agriculturists.
During these times of social distancing, the space we have outside has become more important than ever. The Fourth of July is almost upon us, and with it comes the urge to frolic outside with friends and family. To eat and drink, perhaps to dance and sing. While we must be mindful of this very human desire, there still exists the real danger of spreading the virus unwittingly.
The relationships we have are not static; they are always flowing and evolving. Just like a good sourdough starter, a friendship will not grow and rise to the occasion if you don’t tend to it. If we forget about that loaf and don’t feed, knead and touch it, it will flatten and die. It will become a remembrance of something fragrant and delicious.
During these times of isolation, we may have let some of our friendships become stale. Be it an old friend, a distant family member or even our close beloved ones, it’s important to reconnect and keep the relationship alive.