The middle men have been eliminated. The monocropping farmer, pesticide distributor, truck driver, grocery store owner. They are all replaced.
My farming experience began as soon as Matt returned home from teaching at the local high school. I had a tour of the garden with rows of green vegetation peeking out from the dark earthy soil. Beets. Lettuce. Strawberries. Spinach. Tomatoes. No pesticides. I was introduced to the goats, sheep, goose, hogs, meat and laying chickens, and the family dog Lily. There were the necessary tool sheds, a garage and two tractors- one old and new.
I became Matt’s clumsy less efficient shadow, mimicking his movement to complete the job at hand. My activities included shoveling organic material and transporting it to the potato plants, taking care to steer my wheelbarrow around the irrigation knobs and small leafy beginnings of life. There was weeding, racking leaves, and transporting forsythia branches to the compost using the tractor bed. The work was physical but not exhausting; back muscles tensed and expanded with each pitchfork lift. I watched as Matt pushed buckets of discarded food waste from the local organic pizzeria onto the dirt in front of the two 300 lb hogs. Their snouts scrunched and wiggled over elongated strips of mozzarella cheese, burnt crusts and tomato residue. A feast for mud-soaked kings and queens.
I learned to identify garlic scapes, the long green stalk of a garlic plant that twists and curves toward the sky. They provided the base for my pesto, together with olive oil, lightly toasted pine nuts, and a hint of lime. Matt made the pasta by hand, kneading fresh eggs into the flour before stretching and pulling the dough into perfect strands. The salad with freshly picked lettuce and a small dish of homemade hummus completed the meal.
As I sipped my daiquiri from the strawberries harvested outside, I was reminded of the middle men. Those barrel of monkeys, swinging together, create the modern-day food chain. Production and consumption. Fast and cheap. Our Monday night dinner broke that chain. I could see the origin of my food out the window from the kitchen table: plants from the soil, eggs from the chickens, from diligence and sweat. The middle men were superfluous. I can’t imagine they will be invited to dinner anytime soon.