Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Whole Beef Enchilada

Who knew security comes at the price of a freezer full of meat?

Our beef order came yesterday! My nose and tongue were again happy as I browned some ground beef to make Crockpot Pasta Fagioli Soup for supper. After ordering this organic beef last fall and eating it through the winter, it was a rude awakening in March when we ran out and I had to buy yucky conventionally-produced beef. Needless to say, I ordered more this year. About twice as much. Hopefully we'll make it to next August this time.

I'm also anxiously waiting for my chickens to arrive, from the same people I get my CSA basket from. And I've been dutifully blanching, freezing and canning the summer bounty to eat later in the winter.

Now, let's be clear. I have never been hungry a day in my life; there was always food on the table. Good food, now that I think about it. But there's still security in knowing I have food to see my family through for weeks, months, an entire season even, on hand. Maybe that's part of human nature, the need to save during the feast for times of famine. Until very recently, our survival depended on it.

But there's also something liberating about it. It's like using cloth diapers: I am not dependant on running to the grocery store when something runs out. In the case of diapers, I just run a load of laundry. For food, there's always something to eat in the house. I might be beans that require soaking and cooking, mixed with whatever else I find on hand, but we will always eat.

I have felt that need for self-sufficiency for a long time, but it has recently been intensified by the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I have to thank Not Jenny for lending it to me. Michael and I have oft thought about our dream of a home in the country, with big gardens for me to putter around in, much like the gardens my grandparents had growing up. As a child, I didn't realize other families actually bought their vegetables; I naturallly assumed everyone's grandparents had a giant bin of potatoes in the cold storage, and a fridge full of carrots you could just help yourself to. Didn't everyone have a freezer just for frozen peas, corn and beans? And those little trays of "flying saucers" cooked in tomato sauce? I think I was well into my teens before I ate a store-bought jar of jam.

I think of how rich we were then. Not necessarily in money, but in food and memories and security. That aspect of growing up is one of the most intense in my memory, and it's something I strongly desire for my children. We worried if moving out to an acreage/farm would be difficult for Abby. We spent a weekend at my uncle's place out in the country for a family reunion: he has about 100 acres, a good 2 acres or so of yard. Abby was perfectly content to just be outside, without fences and boundries (I actually had to fight with her to come for meals). Our largest obstacle right now (other than money) is the desire to be in the city for ABA and other preschool services.

We'll just keep praying about it. :)

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