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October 16, 2011 / beatricebunny

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food

Yesterday, I made it back to our local farmers market (The West Nashville Farmers Market) after three weekends out of town.  I love the farmers market.  It not only provides me with delicious, locally grown/raised food, but it also connects me to the community here in a fundamental way that I don’t have from other sources.  I often travel during the week for business, so that is my time to get out into my community and interact with people, and that connection matters deeply.  It is part of what makes Nashville “home” as opposed to just the place that I live.

We have several farmers and artisan food makers who we regularly interact with, but the two central to my kitchen are Bugtussle Farm and Peaceful Pastures.

Bugtussle is a biodynamic farm in Southern Kentucky.  My husband and I have purchased a CSA from them for the past three years.  Every Saturday, we get a 1/2 bushel of wonderful, in-season veggies and the occasional fruit or flower.  This week we brought home tomatoes, arugula, cabbage, winter squash, garlic, and the last of this year’s basil.

We love the family who runs the farm and we love the connection to the local area it gives us.  Knowing that your food for the week comes from a farm within 100 miles of where you live doesn’t just connect you to the community, it also connects you to the land.  We care when the summer is too dry or too wet.  We notice perfect days for the harvest and we worry that the chickens will stop laying eggs when it gets too hot.  We read a weekly newsletter in which we get to hear about our food source and how things are planted or harvested or eaten by raccoons.  Last summer, the farm was attacked by weasels after the baby chicks and we spent weeks listening to solutions to save the animals.

The path from the ground to your body becomes shorter when you buy food locally- especially from a CSA- and I find that I am more respectful of the food that goes into my body.  And directly, of my own body as part of the cycle.

Peaceful Pastures is a meat farm.  This week we bought 2 dozen eggs and a couple of pounds of bacon from them.  We also signed up for a six month CSA starting in November.  We did this last year, and we STILL have a little meat left.  For just the two of us, six months of meat delivery translates to a year of food.

Farm fresh eggs are amazing – rich, golden, and strongly flavored.  I went from eating two eggs at breakfast to one because they have so much flavor and are so rich.  The rest of the meat is the same – more flavorful, leaner, and less watery.  It’s amazing the difference.

In addition to providing quality, delicious food and supporting local, small farmers, the CSA process also forces me to try new foods and different recipes.  I didn’t think I liked beets at the beginning of our first growing season, but now steamed beet and corn salad is a summer staple in our house.  My husband thought turnips were something that you ate when you ran out of food, now he’s excited to see them in our basket.  I learned to cook goat last winter and plan to make ground lamb meatloaf for dinner tonight.  I’ve learned to pickle and preserve so that food doesn’t go bad.

As I mentioned above, I am often on the road.  The process of coming home and cooking locally sourced food anchors me in this place and this time.  This morning, my husband and I followed our favorite Sunday tradition.  He got up and made coffee from beans we purchased at the farmers market (not locally grown, but locally roasted), and then came back to bed.  We talked while coffee brewed and then moved to the kitchen to pour our first cup.  We put on music (David Gray today), and I cooked food from yesterday’s trip.  Breakfast was bacon, arugula with garlic, and eggs.  Normally, we buy a lovely locally made bread from the farmers market, but we skipped it yesterday, because I am leaving again tomorrow.  Greens for breakfast was not a tradition in my house growing up, but I absolutely love dark, leafy green veggies with an egg.  I cook what ever is in season.  We drink coffee, listen to music, read the magazines or newspapers delivered during the week (today is was an economist, the nashville scene, and the schedule for the Southern Fest of Books).  It’s a lovely, leisurely time.  We unwind from our weekend of “going” and connect to each other before I leave again.

Ultimately, the connection and sense of community flows from the intensely personal- my connection to my husband- through to the farmers at the market, to the other shoppers there, to the land, and to Nashville itself.  I don’t think I can overstate how important this connection is to rooting me here.

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