I am not a farmer. I am not a chef. The most direct work with food I’ve had was when I worked for a catering company at weddings in high school. And unlike most people, I have a touchy relationship with food because of my celiac diagnosis several years ago. But here I am this summer working towards developing a mobile app that will promote sustainable food in the Davidson area. And so begins my food journey.
Today we worked on a farm for only three hours and my appreciation for farmers grew dramatically in such a short amount of time. We were handed hoes and told to blaze out the weeds in a single row each. Three blisters, two bottles of water and a full body sunburn later we managed to weed half the field. Only half the field. The work that goes into managing a small farm, (I can’t imagine a large farm), far exceeds what I imagined. I realized how much I took for granted the effort that went into producing our food. Farmers regard their work not as the daily grind necessary for a career as so many office paper pushers do, but as a trade, a craft, a form of art that creates something beautiful. They put their heart and soul into this trade; sick days are no longer an option when a plant needs water. But the result of this hard work is not only beautiful, it perpetuates life by sustaining the communities food requirements. People no longer fret over whether they will be fed because of the hard work of these invisible people; we have been freed to follow our passions whether it involves fueling the body to pursue sports or diving into break through research. Regardless of the passion, a huge part of our minds have been freed and we hardly give this gift a second thought.
And it’s not just the farmers; it’s the creativity of the chefs that enthuse the consumer’s desires for novel combinations of regularly occurring produce. We had the pleasure of talking to a particular chef whose life goal is to promote clean and local eating by practicing such standards in her restaurant. What allows her to distinguish herself from restaurants that claim to promote local sourcing is extreme flexibility in her menu. She truly hones in on her culinary skills and constantly experiments with whatever is available in a specific time frame to create delicious and healthy meals that keep customers on their toes and constantly stimulated. Falling into a safe routine is never an option, but that’s half the fun of being a chef and creating a truly unique dish that quite possibly no one else in the world has ever cooked.
So many restaurants are structured so that chefs lose their ability to adapt or experiment. That’s left for the reality TV shows. In my opinion, this is a shame because they lose the spark that inspired them to become a chef and as a consumer, I’m more than interested in eating the tastiest and most sustainable food possible. I’d love to see culinary arts truly embrace “art” within the discipline.