Growing up one of my favorite dishes was my mom’s homemade spaghetti. I would always ask for it as a child and typically mom would tell me she could only do it on a Sunday. Once Sunday rolled around, I was so excited because it meant spaghetti day! I remember her pulling out the cast-iron pot, frying links of Italian sausage, her hands crushing those tomatoes. The spaghetti sauce always took several hours to cook down but it was the time spent cooking that gave it that homemade flavor.
I’m sure you have some memories like this too. The nostalgia of how mom or grandma used to cook, the tools she used, and all the work that went into the meals that ended up on the table. It’s those vivid memories that make those dishes so good. That’s the kind of food we all want to be able to put on our tables, food that has a narrative. These narratives tell the story of where our food comes from, how it was grown, and ultimately how it ended up on our tables.
And it is these principles, these narratives that many modern food movements have capitalized on.
If you look at some of the values behind movements such as the slow food movement and even some more extremists perspectives like the non-gmo movement, many of the takeaways encourage us to become closer to our food, to form a relationship with our food, to appreciate where it comes from, and to tell the narrative that is our food.
As a person who loves food, agriculture, and to be in my kitchen, I want that too. And if I had to guess, the people involved in agriculture, the farmers and ranchers in this country want that too. We aren’t the enemies here. In fact, we are on the same team.
The truth is we want many of the same things out of the food we eat. We want to have the same liberties to choose the food we want to prepare and serve to our families, just like you do. And we want people to be able to respect that choice, just like you do.
We’ve come to a time in our history of our food where the formal fanfare and etiquette that used to be found in our food is a dying trait. No longer do we find the multi course meals where people spent hours enjoying their food. People now are searching for food that is good for you, but yet fairly easy to prepare at home. Let’s call it simplistic gourmet. And for me, that’s one of the reasons I share recipes here on this site.
But these movements typically go a step further by including the principle that we need to go back to the ways things used to be done. There’s this idea that re-establishing values and relationships with our food means we have to pay more for our food or that we need to go back to old food. It is certainly a beautiful picture that romanticized version of farming that we see 50 years ago, but it is simply not realistic.
Slow food doesn’t have to change to fast food and new food doesn’t have to change back to old food in order for us to find that narrative in our food once again. It doesn’t have to be so black and white, there are many shades of gray in between. There doesn’t have to be so many labels, food is food and it tells a story no matter if it comes from the grocery store shelf or your backyard.
At some point we have to accept where we are today and work together to find a solution. Rather than holding onto that romanticized picture of what used to be, let’s find new ways to create or infuse the values of modern food movements into our current food system.
As farmers, that is exactly what we are trying to do.
It is no secret that we all want to feel confident about the food we eat. We want to feel good knowing that what we put on the table, we also cooked with our own two hands. Farmers are no different; we are eaters and people just like you.
So although we may have two very different lifestyles, we believe and a lot of the same things when it comes to our food. And we desperately want you to work together with us.
Let’s put the pen to the paper and change the narrative. Together let’s tell the story of our food, from the farm to your fork and ultimately on the pages of the recipes you cook for your family generation after generation.
Are you with me?
This North Dakota Farmer