My Food Journey

My relationship with real food began when I was a child. Too young to actually remember the details, I have heard my dad tell the story of taking me to the garden with him an setting me down in the dirt while he planted tomatoes. When he got to the end of the row and looked back, I had "helped" by digging up all the plants he had so carefully put in the soil!

The first actual memory I have of the garden is of me sitting among the strawberry plants and plopping bright, red berries into my mouth as fast as I could pick them.

We were poor when I was young, but I didn't realize that until much later because we always had good food. My dad always planted a garden and I can remember during the recession of the 70's when my dad was laid off from Ford how that garden sustained us. We may have been kids but we were expected to be out in the garden doing our share. How I hated it then, but now I am so thankful for the lessons learned! All of the summer's bounty was canned or frozen and put up for winter. We always had beef and pork in the freezer. We ate good food. We ate real food. I took it for granted.

Then I grew up, moved away and went to college for a year in Florida. Found out I didn't like Florida, didn't care for that particular college and learned to survive on ramen noodles and cafeteria "food". Spent many years after that in my first marriage with a man that not only did not know how to manage money but also would not keep a steady job and moved us around from place to place. While I was able to have a garden at times, most of the time we did not stay in one place long enough for me to do so.

I craved real food and self sufficiency. I wanted to have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that those canned goods were lined up on the shelves and the freezers were full of meat and produce. It burdened me to the point that I obsessed about it and I tried to find ways to compensate. For a while, I was able to work at a dairy in Alaska and instead of wages received real milk and beef in payment. Oh I felt rich!

Then, when my ex and I separated and I had two young teens and a job that paid less than $12000 a year (without health benefits), I did not have the money to buy good food. I was living in a borrowed trailer and doing the best I could do. It was back to hot dogs, mac and cheese from a box and those dreaded ramen noodles again.

What a joy it was to me to fall in love with Mike and as an added blessing find that not only was he a farmer, but his passion is to garden! My desires for self sufficiency and the ability to grow as much food as possible suddenly became a reality.

I now feel that my life has come full circle and I feel as happy as that little girl sitting in the strawberry patch eating strawberries to her heart's desire!


Jimmy Holbrook said…
I don't remember you loving to hoe corn that's for sure...of course Dad planted enough so that by the time we got done hoeing it was time to start again...It is good to know how to grow things and it seem so much like second nature that I'm surprised when gardening baffles some people. There is always so much to learn about gardening...I'm glad I listened some to Dad, Virgil, Uncle Jack, Quillan and Granny ...there are times walking around the place I wish some of them were still there to ask questions. I am blessed to have the place that I live and have connection to the land...that's a blessing so many don't know anymore. I think about the many hours spent picking up rocks, hoeing corn, planting tomatoes and walking behind a mule that went on there.
Anonymous said…
And no one deserves to have this full-circle experience more than you, Tammy! You are truly an inspiration!
Jo said…
What a lovely post. What we are able to eat really says a lot about where we are in life, and how our fortunes have favored us. I'm so happy that you have reached your real food dream. :)
The best place in my childhood was my grandparent's hobby farm up out of Mary Hill, Washington. I've gardened every year that I could and always will. I too crave real food and the sufficiency of it put away. Who needs money when the pantry and freezers are full? When the barn is full and the stock are fat and strolling from pile to pile of hay. I so agree, Tammy.
Jessika said…
What a beautiful account of your food history. I hope we're providing those same memories for our kids too. We joke, because our little girls think all Mommys' go out and milk their moo-cows every morning! Wouldn't that be something?