Food is fuel, but it's so much more than that for all of us. It's a memory, aroma and comfort, hardship, it's family and sometimes empty cupboards and not being able to fill a whole plate. This is the first of many food stories we'll be sharing. By getting to know individual and communal stories around food and what food means to each of us, we can better understand how to address needs.
Through my work here at PR Food Center, I've had a lot of time to reflect on food, where it comes from, how it gets to our pantries, and nourishes our bodies (and even our souls!). I have realized how much food has shaped my life, and how I am teaching my kids about food.
I grew up in Metro Detroit. My mom was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mid-Michigan, and my dad was a Detroit native who loved nature and spent a lot of time immersing himself in his love of nature and hunting. I spent my summer vacations working and playing at both my grandparents and Aunt's dairy farms. We spent our days milking cows, baling hay, planting and caring for a vegetable garden, selling sweet corn in a road side stand, and going out to orchards and even the woods to collect fruits to can and "put up" for winter.
Food was a huge part of our summer. My mom always planted a large garden, filled with cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, and so many other wonderful veggies. I used to love heading out the garden and picking tomatoes--warm from the sun and fresh off the vine and take a big bite into and feel the warm juices squirt out everywhere and dribble down my chin. And my mom's tomato and cheese sandwiches were the best!
Somehow, my family made it fun to work. We worked hard; 3 families packing in to cars and driving off to pick bushels of peaches, cherries, apples, blackberries, and coming back and setting up stations to clean and prepare the fruit to can (preserve in mason jars and seal them in hot water baths). Days and days of pickling cucumbers, dilly beans, stewing tomatoes, and so much more!
Today, I grow my own garden with my two children, Jasper and Lilly, much the way my mom did when I was a kid. We make our own jams, pickles, and dilly beans. Our favorite vegetables are "rainbow carrots" (carrots that are purple, yellow, orange, and red), and "magic beans" (pole beans that grow purple and turn green when cooked).
Where am I going with this story and reminiscing about my childhood? I'm thinking about local foods, sustainable food sources, and how we feed ourselves body and soul. I've spent the last year trying to help my community gain access to good, healthy, nutritious foods--no matter their income level.
We want to hear your stories as we are continue our mission to improve food security in the Piscataquis region by connecting people with healthy sources of food.