Renewing the Quality of Food…So God Made a Farmer.
Many years ago, I remember Julia Child talking about her mission to replace the common American practice of heating up pre-cooked, pre-processed TV dinners with fresh, wholesome foods prepared by the cook in the servant-less household... IE the Mother actually cooking. It was so very French… so very foreign to America.
America had drifted from scratch to processed cooking for a whole gamut of reasons but most probably time and convenience with the traditional cooks of the families entering the work force at a very rapid rate. Then that habit of just stick the Swansons or Banquet aluminum tray in the oven was replaced by drive-through fast food and finally by microwaved freezer fare. Cooking from scratch is an art. So much cooking artistry was lost in that era.
America grew fatter and more unhealthy but clung to that lifestyle for convenience and, frankly, monetary reasons. And if truth be told, they ignored what their bodies and appearance told them, opting for Doctor’s advise and the latest weight loss craze thinking that would somehow normalize what was going on in their biochemistry.
Now with great thanks to those who have made it their mission to revitalize the traditional way of doing things, there is a resurgence of going back to our roots when it comes to food, trying to revisit those times when we would go to the local produce stand and pick up a local farmer’s fare. Strolling down the H.G. Hill store aisles, a cup of hot Maxwell House coffee that was served straight up by the attendant for the shopper’s pleasure when you walked in the door, it was the only place in town that sold the local farmer’s produce as I recall.
I remember my grandfather, whom because of his job, had to travel back dirt roads and old country highways where the farmer’s kids would pull their Radio Red Flyer wagons loaded with vegetables from the fields, sitting at the end of their driveways ready to sell to any passerby. He would bring home paper bags full of stuff to eat. Corn, squash, cucumbers, peaches and tomatoes... oh those home grown tomatoes. It was a cornucopia every week during the growing season. Sundays were the best. That’s when all would sit down at a well dressed dinner table after church and enjoy that good food. Eating, talking, joking, fighting... yes even fighting over past indignities and expected outrages.
I don’t miss the fighting but I do miss the food. I learned what real fried creamed corn actually tasted like, not the mushy gooey paste you get in the cans now. Homemade southern bread with soft crust that looked like a layered cake in texture and melted like a candy drop in your mouth. Fried Chicken that only a few hours before had picked around the Muscadine grape arbor in the backyard before my grandfather ran it down and did the dirty deed. Green beans basted in country ham drippings. Creamed potatoes using real cream. I can still smell the pies baking… chess, pecan, lemon icebox with real meringue. Ambrosia. Multiples of food served up without limit, yet most in the family stayed healthy. My grandparents lived well up into their 90’s eating that food.
Now those little red wagons have become farmer’s markets, backyard gardens and Whole Foods stores. The new catch phrase has become "Farm to Table"... know your source. We used to say, "I got it from a farmer down off Hwy 96." Everyone knew that farmer and respected the hard work it was to go from farm to table. Lost but not forgotten. And in remembering what “real food” tastes like and consists of, it’s our duty here at Miss Dot’s and other health conscience blogs to take that dedication and tradition back to the homes and the kitchens, guided by a deep desire to get back on track preparing food with high quality fresh ingredients and inventive combinations.
In that endeavor, I want to especially thank all the local farmers at the end of this year’s growing season for your hard work. We’ve met a lot of you and listened to your stories. Absorbed your feelings and concerns. Introduced local restaurants to our readers that feature your food. There is more to come. In a small way to voice our appreciation at Miss Dot’s, I have cited this Paul Harvey presentation (as I did once before). It’s very meaningful to this blog post.
So God Made a Farmer
God said I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk the cows, work all day in the field, milk cows again, eat supper then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board- So God made a Farmer…
I need somebody with arms strong enough to wrestle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild; somebody to call hogs,tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to await lunch until his wife’s done feeding visiting ladies, then tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon, and mean it- So God made a Farmer…
God said I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt, and watch it die, then dry his eyes and say maybe next year. I need somebody who can shape an axe handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make a harness out of hay wire, feed sacks and shoe straps, who at planting time and harvest season will finish his forty hour week by Tuesday noon and then, paining from tractor back, will put in another 72 hours- So God made a Farmer
God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain, and yet stop in midfield and race to help when he sees first smoke from a neighbor’s place- So God made a Farmer…
God said I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bales, yet gentle enough to wean lambs and pigs and tend to pink combed pullets; who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadowlark. It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners; somebody to seed, seed, breed, and rake and disk and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and a hard week’s work with a five-mile drive to church. Somebody who would bale a family together with the soft, strong bonds of sharing; who would laugh and then sigh, and reply with smiling eyes when his son says he want to spend his life doing what dad does- So God made a Farmer…
By: Paul Harvey
From his address to the 1987 AFBF Convention.
Originally published in 2013