Craft night commences at 6pm sharp every other Thursday and is much anticipated among the young farming community. We, the mostly first-generation agrarians with liberal arts degrees and botanical tattoos, enjoy a variety of trendy hobbies including sewing, card making, knitting, yarn spinning, and cookie baking. Between sips of herbal tea, the usual discussions bubble: canning tricks, casserole recipes and apron patterns…These parties are every grandma’s fantasy.
I have grown hyperaware of how my “alternative” lifestyle differs very little from my 88-year-old Munsie’s. Not only do we share a sense of fashion (I’ve had my eye on her red barn coat for some years now), but also a love of hard work, good food and orchards. Munsie grew up on a farm and, like me, understands a pig’s manipulative nature, the tediousness of egg washing and the necessity of food preservation.
Our notion of progress often suggests a future vastly different than anything we’ve ever known, but what if advancement means stepping back in time? Movement towards a greener world does encompass new discovery, but also becoming familiar with past ways of life, embracing the old. A sustainable future can’t rely purely on modern technology and brand new ideologies. As Munsie always says: there’s nothing like aged cheese and fresh bread.
Yes, my friends. Progress is the most unlikely convergence of your hemp-wearing, Noam Chomsky-reading college roommate and your cranky, slightly racist Great Aunt Edna.
If one looks at the average American lifestyle in 2015 the preference for instant gratification is readily apparent. I came across two examples this week: 1) Breakfast cereal sales are declining because apparently adding milk takes too much time, 2) A friend with which I was having breakfast was legitimately upset that his coffee was to hot to drink right away. People usually want things at the snap of a finger and often will not abide to wait.
Innovation and progress are often measured by the ability to make something happen faster, it seems like people are always trying to speed up and compress time.
Agriculture is inherently bound by time. Plants and animals take a set amount of time to come to maturity; the gestation period for a cow is nine months, tomato seeds germinate in seven days and the average olive tree takes about three years to begin producing fruit.
Since working on a farm I am increasingly plugged into these rhythms. This has caused me to slow down my pace of life and consider the value of patience and delayed gratification.
I have come to enjoy making foods that take a long time: slow fermented sourdough bread that has a deep, complex flavor; canned tomatoes (an all day affair) that provide you with a taste of August all winter long and fruit wine, that after months of aging tastes better to me than any bottle I have ever purchased.
All of this has given me a deeper appreciation for the work that goes into food—I know now that pleasure is often proportional to the amount of effort one puts into production.
Changing how we prepare and enjoy our food is an easy way to reap the benefits of delayed gratification. Taking time to create meals transforms our interaction with food from simply a physical fuel to a nourishing experience. Slowing down and becoming aware of our day-to-day routine inevitably poses a challenge to the dogma that things are unequivocally better if they are happening faster.