News From the Farm | August 10, 2015

The Lunch Table

As an intern at Full Belly, one of my responsibilities is cooking lunch once a week. Every day we gather together to pause and share a meal. It is a much-needed respite after a long morning and provides the nourishment and energy we all need to finish the day. Sitting down alongside your friends and coworkers is lovely, but to be honest my lunch day is often the most stressful day of the week. The interns all take the responsibility of cooking a nourishing and filling meal for the hardworking farmers very seriously. It can lead to a lot of worry over having made enough, making sure there’s protein and other nutrient-dense foods, and hopefully that it tastes good as well! But, as is often the case, situations that are the most challenging turn out to be the most rewarding and fulfilling. Despite the ever-present anxiety of my lunch day I have learned so much in our little hodgepodge intern kitchen. It is in the kitchen, creating dishes out of all the beautiful fruits and vegetables grown on this farm, that the purpose of what this farm does rings the most true: we’re growing food. 

Of course I’ve only stated the obvious, but with the busyness of summer rushing by us, and the whirlwind of each day exhausting us by nightfall, it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. There is a reason each farm worker gets up before dawn, puts his or her all into every undertaking, and keeps at it until the work gets done. And that reason is your dinner plate. I can’t think of any other job or task that has such a tangible and meaningful purpose. Working on a farm makes one realize that food is more than just a commodity picked up easily at a grocery store, something cheap or expendable. Rather it is something you have devoted great quantities of your energy into and in turn is something that nourishes you and returns your investment fully. There is something soul-satisfying about cooking with vegetables that you have had a hand in seeding, planting, weeding, and harvesting. But fortunately it isn’t necessary to be a farmer to have the same sense of well-being about the food you eat. Planning your diet to include mainly seasonal foods and what is grown near you will inevitably connect you more closely to the cycles of nature and bring you into a community of people striving to turn the tide of our food system. 

Eating at our lunch table, surrounded by delicious food and good friends, I can see the reason I want to farm. It is for the community, for the people in my life, for my family and loved ones. I want more than anything to provide them with food that is not only healthy and beneficial to their bodies but which also enriches the environment around us. I want to care for and nourish the soil and work alongside and within the local ecosystems. Farmers are caretakers of the land, a beautiful and bountiful gift, which I want to see flourish as well as the people around me. So on my lunch day, after a morning of weeding the eggplant and before an afternoon of picking cherry tomatoes, while I chop onions or cut up peppers, I have a much clearer understanding of this breathtaking piece of land that I have the good fortune to be a part of. I see the whole interconnected system, from the soil and water underfoot to the plant setting fruit under the California sun and finally to the meal set out on the table: it’s all a beautiful cycle for which I should always give thanks. 

–Juliana Ferenczy