Finding Life in Farm Fresh Food

In December of 2011 we walked into the grocery store.  I had a bounce in my step anxiously awaiting the challenge before us.  Nathan looked defeated before we even began.  We had just committed to a 10 week sugar cleanse and finished up the last morsel of processed food in our house.  Our 10 week cleanse would span the months of December, January and early February.  Yep, that meant we were looking the holiday season in the face with no hope of the sugar high from our favorite treats.  Our assignment was simple-no foods containing sugars (unless they were less than 5 grams).  That meant blueberries and white grapefruits would be as close to sweet as we would get and we were at the grocery store to stock up.

Nathan grew up in a home where “cookies” (which could mean any sort of high sugar treat) was used to get a quick “pick me up”, treat the blues, make a bad day better and a comforting way to end the day.  While I was getting plenty of sugar in my everyday diet I had become a “health food junkie” adding in too many natural sugars.  When I did an inventory of what I was eating-while I felt like it was very healthy-I realized that the amount of sugar I was consuming everyday was putting my body into enough stress that I was seeing the beginning signs of diabetes (swollen hands, joints, lymph nodes and a ringing in my right ear).  Blackstrap molasses for iron, green smoothies with orange juice and banana, kombucha and lots of fresh fruit.  On most days I might as well have been drinking Mountain Dew.

We had already started our journey to real food and had been motivated by limiting ourselves to local food as much as possible.  But what we were desperately looking for was a breakthrough.  And then we got down to the right questions. Does it really matter if we eat healthy foods? Does God care what food we eat?  Here we were stuffed, but HUNGRY.  The foods we were eating were keeping us in a fog-tired, unable to think clearly, irritable.  But most importantly it was why we were eating them.  They kept us numb.  When there were hopes we wanted to say, actions we wanted to make happen, dreams we wanted to dream we would head for the chips, cookies and soda.  NUMB.  The internet and TV offered a refuge that allowed us to hide our dreams even more.  What changed?

One day we were at our wits end and didn’t know how we would continue.  Nathan was working a full time job while trying to make the farming at home thing work too.  I was about to explode with ideas of ways that we could follow our dreams and provide authentic connection for our children and ourselves in the community.  Nathan’s mom had been diagnosed with liver disease and it was a wake up call that it could be now or never.  Through tears we scratched down what it was we were really hoping for.

   Full Time Farming-Helping Others Farm-Feeding the Hungry-Connection

We were full of energy and excitement as we scratched those things down on paper and realized that together we had what we needed to make it a reality.  But then, the next morning-reality set in.  The sink was full of dirty dishes, piles of toys, books and trash cluttered our home and our first attempt of a super nutritious, healthy meal failed as we all looked at one another blankly over dinner and Nathan went out for a hamburger after the kids went to bed.  DEFEATED.  It was apparent that there were a lot of things holding us back to finding our best.

Clutter-Wasted Time-Addiction to Sugar & Processed Foods-Distractions

A little weary, but still hopeful we did what we knew would really work.  We slowly started to declutter our home taking the 100 Thing Challenge and focused on healthy, local, but delicious food.  We eliminated almost all processed foods and went over 10 weeks without any sugar or white flour.  The thing about eating locally grown, raised and prepared foods is that you can really limit the amount of processed foods in our diet.  We believe that healthy fats found in pastured protein, brown eggs and good old fashioned milk gives you the energy you need to live at the pace we live.  Seasonal vegetables offer you the diversity of nutrients that your body craves at just the right time.  The sizzle of farm fresh butter in the skillet first thing in the morning.  Freshly gathered swiss chard wilted in the melting butter.  An egg cooked to perfection at it’s center.  It’s simple, delicious.  There is something about limiting yourself to what is available that sets you free.  FREEDOM.

We were able to do many of the things that we had set our minds on-although they were all hard in their own ways-but worth it.  The communication skills that we learned through the process-sometimes at the top of our lungs-has carried us through the difficulty of this last year.  Our ability to farm and share our harvests with others gives us a greater purpose.  We will forever be thankful for those who give financially to our family.  We’ve really been able to think through what God intended for us when it comes to nourishment through food.  Our bodies were designed to eat the original foods that he created.  Our mothers’ bodies were fed and through them so were we, we were born hungry with a desire to be nourished at our mothers’ breast, our first foods were meant to be fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables.  And for the rest of our lives our bodies crave those foods that were given to us, uniquely designed for us.  I’m realistic that local, farm fresh food is not the only path to health and clarity-but for us it’s been a way to overcome many of the obstacles in our lives that separated us from what we were created for.

I always get to write about the very things I’m going through.  So it’s through a lot of careful processing of where we are at now on our food journey that I realize that being overwhelmed from the last year of our life has taken it’s toll in our kitchen.  Illness and death, farming full time and caring for those in our community has left us grabbing a candy bar and ordering pizza a bit too frequently.  Something we are learning to be thankful for.  A reminder of why so many Americans are dependent on fast, easy foods.   A reminder that eating fresh, healthy food is a privilege and worthy of sacrifice.  A reminder that all Americans deserve access to healthy foods that bring life and it’s time for us to take a long, hard look at hunger.   HUNGER.  May my own satisfaction and desire for self never numb me to the needs of others.  But the truth is that this short period of time where we’ve had our share of fresh, local food-but also became dependent on the other stuff needs to be short lived.  It prevents us from the mental clarity, physical ability and focus to care for ourselves, our children and others.

It’s time to refocus, clear our minds and find our best once again.  We were designed to eat fresh, healthy seasonal foods and now more than ever it is available to us in increasing quantities.  We’re ready to get back to the basics and enjoy the blessings of farm fresh food again.  LIFE.  As we hope for a larger farm we also dream of providing those who support us with more of the seasonal splendor that can be grown and raised right here in Kentucky. Grapefruits can be delivered from farming friends from Florida and blueberries can be pulled from the freezer where they were stored during peak season.  We can combine those with roots and winter squashes carefully stored and greens from the high tunnel.  Pastured protein fills our freezer and eggs, milk and cheeses complete our meals.  We begin to look at provision with thankfulness in entirely new ways while we wait for spring.  Please join us.

photo by Jordan Rolett