Nature’s Recipes: Living off the Land in Missouri

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Nature’s Recipes: Living off the Land in Missouri
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Glinda CrawfordGlinda Crawford is Professor Emerita of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Ecological Studies at the University of North Dakota.  We interviewed Glinda about her thoughts on living off the land and the impact such a lifestyle has made on her home cooking.  The result is a moving discussion on our connection with nature, our respect for our land, and most important of all, our respect for those that came before us.

Could you tell us a little about yourself?

I chuckle about this one. The longer one lives, the more we have to tell. I am 61 years old, a Wife, Mother, retired University Professor, always a learner, Gardener, Artist, Writer, lover of Nest Making including Culinary Delights, unabashed lover of the Earth/Nature. I started my professional career as a Home Economics Teacher in 1969 and as a Home Economics Teacher Educator in 1975. Of my 30 years at the University of North Dakota, I taught Environmental Studies classes the last 10. In 2005, I “retired”. And in 2007, I “re-treaded” when we moved to this little Farm.

What inspired you to make the move to a small Missouri farm?

Some moments in Life present arrows pointing in a particular direction. One cannot explain those arrows. Perhaps they are nudges from the Divine. Our move to this 40 acre Farm which we call Butterfly Hill Farm was the focus of a big arrow in our lives.

In 2007, the 3 of us (husband Richard, daughter Melanie and me) entered into a partnership since the Farm was a dream for us all. Richard and I moved back to the County where we grew up after being away 38 years. Our Family History here dates back to 1843 on his side and 1851 on mine. This is an amazing gift uncommon in contemporary times. We have considerable Family living near. At the time of our move, my Parents were still living; shortly after, my Father passed.

All 3 of us have backgrounds in teaching and working in Environmental Fields. Richard taught Environmental Science, Wildlife Management and Ecological Restoration. Melanie taught 5th grade; she later worked in Health Food Stores and on Organic Farms, plus she was a co-author of a Farmers’ Market Manual. My interest was studying the elemental connection (albeit disconnection) of my culture to the Earth which sustains us and exploring means for our return.

By the late 1990s, we had shifted to a diet mostly organic and were growing more of our own Food. We were increasingly concerned about our society’s overuse of resources and toxic loads. As the years passed, sustainability became something we could not just talk about or expect of another, it became something we had to do. We dedicated the Farm toward living sustainably, which includes growing as much of our own Food as possible and reclaiming traditions of living on the Land with updates, of course. The Farm gave us a huge learning curve.  It and we are works in progress.

How has living off the land influenced your home cooking?

We not only grow as much of our own food as possible, we process it too. That includes canning, freezing, drying, and storing to extend the Season of the wonderful produce the Earth provides. We grow Heirloom Veggies and raise Heirloom Chickens (Buff Orpingtons, White Plymouth Rocks, Barred Rocks, Black Australorps, and now Delawares) for Eggs and Meat. We also graze from wild edibles. We have a network of local Farmers who provide food we do not raise, like Beef and Pork. Richard and his Family hunt and fish, so we enjoy bounty from the wild too.

The inspiration for what we eat comes from Foods in season or from what we have “put by”. It contrasts directly to all those years when we ate whatever we wanted from the Grocery Store, or we ate out because we were too busy to cook. We look at what we have in our Family “store” and we make choices about what we will eat. Those Culinary Delights come from Foods we have produced with our very own hands in partnership with the Land. It is deeply satisfying on a level which is hard to describe.

Foods grown from the Land and eaten in season taste the best. The Grandmas knew that. That Strawberry freshly picked from our Patch tastes like it is supposed to rather than those Food Models raised for transportation qualities and appearance which they sell in big box stores. The flavor, nutritional content, and “life’s energy” are at peak.

These days, we are enjoying among other things Wilted Lettuce Salads. It is not spring or early summer without it. The Lettuce, Green Onions, Boiled Eggs are from right here on our Farm. The Bacon was from an Heirloom Pig raised by a local Farmer. The organic Vinegar was the only ingredient not local.

In growing our own food, we get no guarantees. We do our best, but Nature always has the upper hand. That 1st year, we didn’t have a fruit crop because of a late freeze. That meant that we did not eat much in the way of fruit at all. That next season, we had fruit in abundance. Every bite was a gift and a celebration.


If you had to pick the most important feature of a recipe, what would it be?