George Bernard Shaw said, "There is no sincerer love than the love of food." I believe that with all my heart and soul, as if I were a farmer. My appreciation for food is not just as a trendy pastime at restaurants. It extends from the beginning of food being grown, to the beauty of an agricultural landscape with all its colours and aromas. to the flavours of the food on the table, to the cultures that prepare the food in many various ways, and finally to the gatherings at tables around the world and the comfort and camaraderie they provide. All of these components to me are what make up what we now call the "farm-to-table" movement.
Does this movement represent going back to our roots, a search for simpler times? Nostalgia is often romantic; we view the past with rose-coloured glasses and see only the parts that form a pretty picture. If we think we are replicating a farm dinner when we sit down in a pastoral setting to enjoy a meal of seasonal fare freshly harvested, that is only true if we helped in the harvesting. If we showed up in our Sunday best to merely sit at the table and feast that would be more like a plantation owner enjoying the spoils of his workers' labour. Farmers work hard, from dawn till dusk. In the days of old, they were known to eat hearty meals because they burned a lot of calories. Their love of the land has a practicality; it is their livelihood. Living at the mercy of Mother Nature is not an easy life, and farmers make the best of it. Often farms are a family business because it takes many hands to do all the jobs. Any kid whose Mother grew a garden knows that much!
Interestingly, even as you continue in the path from the farm towards the table, those involved are traditionally hard-working folk. Chefs nowadays have a celebrity connection, but most chefs don't get any of the fanfare we see on television - they just work hard to prepare tasty meals, in the restaurants or food trucks or institutions or camps or hotels. Many of them would call themselves "cooks", as they feel they are one link in the chain, one part of the team that prepares the food. The chef is the one person who organizes, like the one farmer whose name is on the land title. In the same way it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to raise food.
Part of that community is Mothers. Whether on a farm or in the city, traditionally it has been Mom who organized the food for the family. Day to day, part of her full schedule involves having the inventory (milking the cows or grocery shopping!), planning the menu (seasonal ingredients or things preserved) and then preparing the food. Here again we have an example of a hard-working person who has a love for their work. There is a great deal of passion involved but not much glamour.
We are hoping to celebrate the hard work of all these people at Rabbit Hollow this summer. We have planned a schedule of events so people can see the work involved in bringing the food from the farm (next door to us) to the table (as Chef Martin cooks it, often with your help!). You can come in your Sunday best if you wish, but be prepared to roll your sleeves up. It is idyllic to see the plants in the field and hear the birds chirp and the bees buzz and smell the blossoms and the earth. It does take a bit of effort to make a good meal. It is heartwarming to gather with friends and enjoy that effort. It is important to remember that it takes a community to grow food in a sustainable way, to "raise" it with honour and dignity like we raise a child.
So here's your invite: Please join us at Rabbit Hollow this summer and take the journey from the farm to the table.