Phaedra: the Gardener, Whole Foods Cook, Kimchi Maven

My good wife just had an interview posted with Mary Lee Kitchen about her gardening, making, cooking, eating and healthy food-sharing habits. While I am happily married to her and the immediate recipient of her natural and organic meal-making powers, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the interview and discovering new things about my wife. So proud of her. Check out the whole interview here. I've copied two excerpts below to whet your appetite to read the rest.

(Also, because of my wife's healthy food habits, I am confident that I will now live till I am 153 years old and that I will share the joy of being great-great-great-great-great grandparents with Phaedra in the 22nd century.)

ML:Where did you grow up? How do you feel like your background has shaped your outlook of food? 
PT: I was fortunate to grow up in a semi-rural agricultural community on the North East coast of Scotland. My “normal” was tractors in the fields and the smell of manure, farms all around our village, and small fishing boats on the beach at the end of every day. We had time off from school for the potato harvest, and the school offered hot lunches that I remember being served on real dishes.  I think this kind of environment made it impossible for me to separate the cultivation and harvesting work from what we were eating.

I grew up very aware that people worked hard to produce our food and that it came from farms and boats rather than supermarkets. I think that this is what I’m always trying to get back to in my adult life. I feel really good if I can somehow be connected to the people that are raising, growing and foraging the food that we are eating, and I’m pretty distrustful of large food corporations because I want to be able to trace my beef back to the land it ate from, so to speak, and I want to see the fields where my cabbages grew....

ML:The land is seen as sacred throughout the Old Testament, do you believe that there is hope of get back this? If so, how? 
PT:I have a big hope for this. Sometimes it seems as if large and wealthy food companies are going to take over, but I’m encouraged by all the farmers and small food producers that keep going. It’s not as obvious because usually we don’t hear a lot from the media about these people, and they are all too busy working to go around shouting about what they are doing. But books keep getting written, urban gardens keep being planted, local nurseries keep teaching, farmers markets keep popping up, milk groups keep forming, and backyard chickens keep being brought home. It’s like a small, steady push back against the industrialized way of relating to food.

I feel like we have to believe that every tiny act adds up to something bigger. That’s why I get excited about buying food directly from a farm. It’s my small dollars, but those dollars mean that it’s a little bit more likely that the farm stays open. And my small garden? It’s three 3 x 6 foot raised beds, but it shouts out to my neighbors that the earth is good for something besides a lawn. I think if we lose our belief that the land is sacred, that is, beloved by God and therefore worth “tending” with a holy care, then we lose something about being human.

So we have to keep talking about and sharing what we are doing in our small way, and it will encourage others to join in.I’d also add that supporting organizations that are fighting this fight is another stellar way to add your weight, to the push back. Arocha is a fantastic non-profit organization that is doing its part. You can volunteer with them if there is an Arocha project near you; or you can support them financially as well.


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