Nature’s Recipes: Living off the Land in Missouri - Page 3

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Nature’s Recipes: Living off the Land in Missouri
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As a culture in these times, we are witnessing a considerable interest in Genealogy and Family History. Reclaiming Family Recipes is companion. The Old has now become the New.

Some would argue that the modern pace of things has taken us farther from our connection to the natural environment, yet there is a strong movement nation-wide to return to healthier living/cooking and support local food producers. How would you describe the connection that we Americans have to the land surrounding us?

The connection Humans have to the Land is elemental. We are part of Nature rather than separate from her. We are part of that Great Circle of Life, no more or less important than any other Being. As a result, Nature cannot be separated from who we are.

Sadly, our culture sees us as “separate from Nature”, or worse yet, “over Nature”. That approach is not common to all Cultures and especially not to Indigenous Peoples. It separates us from our true identity and contributes to a “dis-ease” so common in our time.

Many may question this. However, one has only to look at the very young and very old to see that elemental connection. Young children are deeply fascinated by Nature. They note everything in the smallest detail which they clutch in their stubby little hands: the worms, grass, flowers, feathers, mud. Sadly, they are told by the Big People in their Lives “not to get dirty”, “come inside”. As they grow up, they increasingly live in worlds where they play in parking lots on asphalt and see Nature as a stuffed toy or a distant artifact “on the internet” or in some protected “zoo”.

In those years between the very young and very old, many of us spend our lives disconnected from Nature. We are busy in our human-centered worlds almost beyond belief. We travel faster than we did the day before. We know tomorrow will demand even more from us than today. At such accelerating rates of speed, how will we know when we have arrived? We quietly and loudly yearn for something more.

The Elderly often experience a return to Nature. I remember my Father’s deep connection with Birds in the weeks before his passing. It was as if no separation existed between him and the feathered ones he loved dear. He shared his breakfast with them. Mother is currently in an area Nursing Home. My daughter and I take things from Nature into the Nursing Home for Mother and for others. People light up when they see Baby Chickens, when they taste a fresh Green Onion, Tomato or Strawberry straight from the Garden. The stories just spill out. The imposed silence of our culture upon our Elders is broken as surely it must be.

When the European immigrants arrived on this Continent, they were desperate for new homes and new stories. Instead of embracing the story of this place, most sought to change it. They saw the Pristine Paradise of their new Home as a collection of “Resources” to be taken. Consequently, many of us have wandered over this landscape for 500 plus years without fully being at home here.

In these times, many focus a wary eye on the tragic happenings in the Gulf. Many describe feelings of profound grief, anger, helplessness at the damage to Nature. We see the glaring reality of the losses underpinning our modern life styles.  Yet we forgot to think about the consequences of our actions.  Surely, this cannot be happening “on our watch”.  I do believe that times of great pain also become times of great growth.  It is too early to tell the direction we will go.  But this singular event puts in dramatic contrast our love of land and Nature, and what we Humans are willing to do to satisfy our own needs. Helpless, we are not.

But in the midst of this drama, our coming home to this landscape is happening in our time and it is very beautiful to see. We have waited a long time for this. We bear witness to it in the increasing numbers of people who garden, birdwatch, set up butterfly gardens. We see it in the increasing numbers of Farmer’s Markets springing up across the country and the droves of people who would not miss them.

In modern times, the average food on our plate has traveled 1500 miles, which in days gone by would have been outrageous. That approach places an ecological footprint upon the Earth which is immense. These days many are thinking how we can reduce our dependence on Oil. Buying local and growing our own food is a huge step.

Food is perhaps our most basic connection to land. Eating locally, eating in season,  growing our own food, and establishing a relationship with local growers are all ways to connect with the specific place on Earth which is our home. When we grow our own food, the taste and living vitality of the food are greatly enhanced. Our bodies and spirits know that. We have a comfort greatly missing in the conventional world.

Gardening is one of the most significant ways to return to being creatures of the Earth. It reconnects us with our ancestors. Many of us grew up gardening or we have stories of ancestors who gardened. They were pretty smart cookies. The sophistication of their knowledge was nothing short of amazing.

Gardening is an act which puts us on our Knees on the Earth. We see the intimate tie that we have to the Earth. We see how we are bound to her health and her vitality. We see how very small we are. That’s good for us and it’s been a long time in coming.


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