We took our first hogs to the processor Thursday. It was very much bitter sweet for me, and not just due to the injuries I received in the battle to get them loaded. I had become attached to one of them – surprise, surprise. I enjoyed seeing them grow and learning about them. Pigs are intriguing animals with smarts and personality. But I understood from the beginning that we were raising food for ourselves and other people.
Except for the few tomato plants we raised and a small garden, I had become disconnected from my food. Somewhere deep in the recesses of my mind I knew from my childhood experiences with my grandparents who had a small farm outside Springville, AL., meat was once a living, breathing animal. I knew that some farmer labored to bring the lettuce, tomatoes, onions and other produce to the market. But I had allowed myself to almost totally disconnect from exactly what goes into bringing that food to market. (don’t EVEN get me started on the regulatory purgatory that exists for farmers!) In just the nine months or so we’ve been working to raise food, I’ve learned so much. I have a great deal of respect for farmers who labor to bring us our food. Regardless of their methods, it’s hard work!
However, I must say that I have a new found admiration and sense of awe for those farmers who work to bring clean, natural food to the tables of their family and neighbors without chemicals and fancy equipment. To raise meat animals with respect and regard for their well being is honorable. To raise produce in ways that minimize the risk of contamination is hard, hard work. Their days are long, their financial reward is not going to make them rich, at least not in a financial sense. Matter of fact, most that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting still hold down off farm jobs just to pay the mortgage and make ends meet. Therefore, I find their motives to be pure and deeply rooted in their desire to make a difference in this world, both for the land, the animals and for their fellow man. I’m learning that many of these farmers are Godly people and have reverence for all that He has given us. I aspire for Porter Pond Farm to make its place among them, as they are the true stewards of the earth!
To my non-farming friends, next time you are in the market, think about what went into producing whatever it is you are buying. Remember that someone, somewhere put their blood, sweat and sometimes tears, into that product in order to get it to market! I encourage you to go out and buy local food products, get in your kitchen and cook something! Put at least some of your food dollars back into your local economy, and by that I don’t mean Walmart, Kroger or Publix. If you are one of my Alabama friends, go buy some Blount county tomatoes or Chilton county peaches. If you are one of my Mississippi or Tennessee friends, go buy some Ripley tomatoes, Nesbit blueberries or delta catfish. Wherever you are, go buy something local today. You will find it more flavorful and nutritious, I promise. If you need help finding local sources, check out the sites below. It’s time we all get connected with our food and support our local farmers!