This past Labor Day, despite the rain, we ventured out to Madison County to partake in the Meet Yer Eats Farm Tour. Meeting the people who grow my food means a lot to me, considering I’m putting a lot of trust (um, and my health) in their hands. Since Virginia is not a small state, there was no way I’d be able to visit all the farms I regularly purchase produce from but we were able to make it to two: Wolf Creek Farm and Brightwood Vineyard and Farm.
I was thoroughly impressed by the tour given by John Whiteside of Wolf Creek Farm. He spoke about every aspect of the failing American food culture and was honest about the dangers of not paying attention to where your food comes from. After the tour, I felt like I had learned more from him in those two hours than I had in many classes during college. That says something. (It also says something about college courses. I can’t recall a single thing from Molecular Cell Biology — I’m looking at you, Professor Wormington.) I’ve gotten to know John and Mihye this year as I frequent their stand at the Farmer’s Market every week. They’re kind and humble people who can strike up a conversation with anyone and have plenty of advice about cooking (the beef kidney sitting in my freezer right now is a testament to that). Being able to see the open pastures where the cattle live was a great thing for me to witness. I know that the beef I consume has been treated well and humanely – they’ve had good lives.
Brightwood Vineyard and Farm was up next on our tour. I venture to their stand on Saturdays and taste some of their homemade jellies and jam. As soon as we parked, it kind of felt like home. Comfortable, unhurried, patient. In an odd way, it reminded me of my grandparents’ farm in Guatemala. The animal tour was great – got to see lots of chickens, donkeys, sheep, ducks, goats, and some vegetables afterwards. We sampled the jellies and wine and bought one of each since we’re suckers for good food (who isn’t?). By the end of the tour, the rain got the better of us and we headed home shortly thereafter (not before stopping by Rev Soup for some late lunch).
Slowly but surely, I’ve been taking baby steps towards being more appreciative of my own food. I recently bought herbs to grow at home and I bought a mushroom growing kit (which my inner 5 year old could not pass up). In the coming years, I want to grow my own vegetables at the very least. It’s funny but I think I can taste the difference between produce that’s been cared for and produce from a factory (perfect-looking but flavorless). I consider myself really lucky that I have access to plenty of local, beyond-organic food here in Virginia; I wish more people were aware of how easy it is to get (and make!) good food.