Ever heard the phrase “You are what you eat?“
It’s true. Your body is literally composed of all the stuff you eat. Don’t think about that too much, because it’s gross.
It’s amazing that people want to have a relationship with their pastor, their doctor, the person who cuts their hair, or even the person who delivers our mail. But the person who grows the fruits, vegetables, dairy, or meats our families consume?
We don’t want to know them. We wouldn’t even like to meet the people who deliver food from the distributor to our grocery store. We are completely relationally disassociated and disconnected with one of the most intimate things about us… our food.
If you are what you eat and you don’t know the people where your food comes from– You probably need to take 4-5 hours and watch some of the amazing documentaries that have come out in the past decade about our food system. You’ll see they at the molecular level most of what you eat is genetically modified corn filler, pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, and other chemicals designed to kill pests on the farm. It’s scary.
Kristen and I decided 2 years ago that we wanted to know where our food came from. Starting in 2010, we made a commitment that 25% of our food budget would go to food we have a relationship with. So we planted a garden. Next, we joined a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Finally, we committed to going to a local farmers market bi-weekly. (Not only to look, smell, and sample– But to buy and support!)
That’s when we met the Rodriguez family of Escindido and their farm, JR Organics. Joe, Jr. and his wife Joan E are fourth generation farmers in Southern California. Their 80 acre farm in north San Diego county employs their family and about 10 others. We know this because we’ve taken the time to get to know them.
Yesterday, our family went to our second farm tour on their property. It’s one thing to go and get our box full of fruits and veggies but it’s entirely another thing to go to their farm and see how things get into those boxes. Who are the people who do the work? What makes something organic? What is the science involved? What techniques are they innovating?
The day at the farm is amazing. It’s fun to meet people who, like you, are members of the CSA. And it’s fun that they have a tour just for kids and to see them running around the paths between fields in ways children have played for millennia. And, of course, the monster feast they put on is a wonderful reward. It’s one of those days we put on our calendar and circle three times: We wouldn’t miss it.
Now that we’ve known the Rodriguez family for two years and done business with them, here are two things that strike me:
First, their values and hearts are in the right place. They absolutely want (and need to) make money at farming. But their values also shine through in how they make money, how they treat their employees, and especially how they care for their farm. Values and heart pour from everything they do. That’s evident when we pick up our box, eat the food they produce, and it’s on display when we visit their farm.
Second, Joe is off the charts intelligent. Listening to Joe, Jr. give the tour yesterday was an absolute clinic in soft innovation. While Joe doesn’t have a PhD in agricultural science he has a PhD in his land and how to work it and that’s far more valuable to him. Joe knows that how he farms directly impacts his bottom line. (And that how he farms becomes the marketing for his farm.) But he also has to deal with market conditions, the weather, bugs and other pests, and the ever-changing standards of remaining an organic farm. As families listened to his presentation and walked his property yesterday they had no idea how much work, discovery, and science went behind each of the things they nodded their heads to.
Here’s my encouragement– get to know where your food comes from. The net results in our family have been astounding. Sure, we are all eating more healthy. But we are also more aware of the people who produce our food and see how our relationship directly impacts them.
Tips for getting started
- Grow something, anything. Even if you don’t have room for a garden you can grow something to eat. Maybe it’s a tomato plant in a 5 gallon bucket on your balcony? Or maybe its a square foot garden on your patio?
- Slice off a piece of your overall food budget for locally produced foods. Our CSA membership costs about $800 per year. You spend it in chunks so it feels like you’re spending more. But, in truth, our overall grocery bills are down.
- Learn to eat what is in season, not what you see on TV. This has been a fun lesson for our family. We eat what is growing. So we eat lots of citrus when our trees ripen in January, lots of leafy greens all winter, and pig out on tomatoes, cucumbers, and strawberries all summer. And we’ve even had to learn how to cook/enjoy things we never would have purchased in the grocery store. All great things!
What does this have anything to do with my life with Jesus? Everything.