If you know me or my family, then you will also know that we live a “Do it Yourself” lifestyle a little more often than we ought to. We build our own houses, raise our own chickens and beef, have our own bees and spin our own honey, we grow our own gardens and can our own food. We make our own wedding cakes and veils. We educate our own children, and make our own soaps. This list could go on and on… We are most certainly do it yourselfers. And I will be totally honest, there have been times when I wish I wouldn’t have. But, when it comes to food I don’t and here is why…
And I don’t mean cheap as in low quality. I mean cheap as in practically free. It can be very overwhelming for a person that is just beginning to get into real food. The price of grass fed beef, and organic eggs are daunting. It is very difficult to bite the bullet and be willing to double the price of your food just to get a quality, clean product. Unfortunately the best way to avoid the high prices is to do it yourself. But when you do, you not only get a better product but an even cheaper product than what you would have bought before switching to grassfed or organic. This applies to everything, meat, dairy products, produce, cleaners etc… I think perhaps I will have to do a series of posts on how I do it all myself.
Quality Control/Food Safety
No matter what the label says it is still hard to know how an animal was fed or treated before it was killed and packaged. Organic doesn’t necessarily mean that the life of the plant or animal was fed the best nutrients or food. So, doing it myself has assured those things for me. I know what grasses my cows eat, and what produce and grains are fed to my chickens, I know how much space my animals have. I know that my garden vegetables had good manure added to the soil and that the soil has been enriched with magnesium and other things. This is important to me and in my opinion effects the outcome of my meal down the road. I also know that during processing that my cheese didn’t get spit in by some disgruntled laborer. And I know that the bottles I use to can food in aren’t lined with chemicals. We could talk in length here about GMO seeds, and cows finished on corn. We could discuss milk cows that get the fat quite literally milked off of them, or the hormones and antibiotics that are used. We could talk about miracle grow and round-up. But I think you should be getting the idea.
Lessons in the Garden
There are few things more valueable than quality family time working together and learning. There is something beautiful about watching little girls sitting in the dirt and eating peas or strawberries, and teaching them about food and faith. There is no greater place to teach faith than in the garden. It also teaches me faith, again… and again. Each year I learn that I am going to get what I put into it. Whether that is time spent weeding and pruning, or time spent learning how to properly weed and prune. I’ve neglected both in the past and had to then learn my lesson.
Connecting with Animals and Nature
There is a lot of peace to be found in playing with a dog or petting a cat. There have been lots of studies on the value of pets in our lives. I believe the same can be said about chickens, and cows, and pigs. Or any other animal for that matter. God put us on earth with the expectation that we would not only use animals for many reasons but also to care for them.
Most of the time we go to the store, purchase already prepared hamburger patties and come home to cook them… Or to make it even more detached, we simply go to the local fast food restaurant and buy a hot hamburger to eat right away. We are so detached from where are food comes from. I don’t believe we were intended to live like this. Alternatively, we could breed our mother cow, then take our children to see the new baby calf as it takes its first steps, then feed and protect that calf as it grows, then thank God for the meat he gave us as we kill it and prepare it to be eaten.
This may sound like a gruesome idea. But this is how food has been for thousands of years. Only now does it turn our stomachs to think that we saw that cow alive. And I believe we are wrong to think that. We need to have a connection with the life of the animals we eat, as much as possible.
Sense of Accomplishment
There is a great amount of satisfaction to be found in seeing an empty garden in the spring turn into huge bountiful crops, and then into stores of food on your shelves. There is also satisfaction to be found in raising animals, in the same way. And then to prepare that food to eat with your family. Too many people lack any kind of accomplishment. We go to work to be put down by bosses, and to be undervalued by all those around us. We need little things to find that sense of well being and accomplishment. And food is a fabulous way to find that.
Really, Really, REALLY Good Food
A really good home made apple pie is worth more to me than I would ever pay to buy one. The card board sugar crap that you can buy in a box is not worth sniffing. Too much of the time we neglect the value in a quality food product. Apple pie can be a true delight, or a pathetic waste of calories. The small effort it takes to put the homemade version on the table is more than worth it’s weight in gold.
Now you are all going to want my apple pie recipe! 😉
Health and Vitality
A healthy plant will grow healthy vegetables, which will help me grow healthy kids. A healthy cow will produce healthy milk which will help me and my family be healthy. Putting clean quality products on the table will benefit your quality of life. That isn’t argueable. Also, if you are making your own food, you will eat it. The more produce in your garden the more fresh tomatoes you are going to eat. You can’t really go wrong with that. If you have bees it will help you choose honey over sugar. You can’t go wrong with that either.
When we have a knowledge of what is in our food and what it took to get it to the table we gain a greater appreciation for it. We gain an appreciation for God. Our “thank you” in our prayer over the meal has a deeper meaning, because we understand how divinely orchestrated our bodies and nature were designed. God plaqued Adam with weeds for a reason. I believe our hands, and feet, and knees should still be covered in dirt today as we work laboroiusly to cultivate what will feed us. It builds character, it builds gratitude, it builds families.
Although I “do it myself” because I think it is better and worth it, I also know that in some circumstances it isn’t worth it, or even possible. Just do what you can. It also takes time to change your routine and start making or growing your own food. Perhaps it isn’t for you at all, but then again perhaps you will learn to embrace the crazy lifestyle of a “do it yourselfer” too!
Featured at: Thank Your Body Thursday