Feast for good fortune: The family farm

Posted: Saturday, January 2, 2016 12:30 am
By Tessa Edick
For Columbia-Greene Media

 

The idea of feasting for future fortune has always had a ring to it as cause for celebration in the New Year.

 

This year, more than ever, I am on a mission to make you responsible for your food choices and sources while celebrating honestly made food by people that care about your health. I am changing the way we eat for the very good fortune and future of saving family farms with the children that will inherit the land we borrow from them to feed the next generation too.

 

We are all so busy, so stressed out and so disconnected from seed and soil we actually think label claims — in abundance in packaged food at supermarkets — supplements, energy drinks and vitamins represent healthy living. It’s a sham.

 

If you are like me, you start to wonder why we are so overfed and actually starving as we consume so much food lacking nutrition? Why there are so many preventable illnesses today among so many people? And why we eat 120 pounds of sugar every year in packaging that deceptively convinces us otherwise? Since when is it normal for everyone to be obese, have cancer, Alzheimer’s, gluten-intolerance and mood disorders?

 

I say processed food and chemical dependency is the culprit. And the people in the big business of food and agriculture pushing this poison for profits are getting rich hiding the truth about our food’s nutrition, animal welfare, practices and sources — at the expense of our health.

 

What do they really care about the future of farming, the survival of family farms or maintaining good health? They just want us to keep eating so they celebrate the wealth of abundance and the profits from feeding us chemicals they fix with pharmaceuticals. It’s time for a real resolution.

 

We are left with one choice: We the people must opt out of our processed food, avoid chemicals found in GMOs and rBST hormones and skip any petro chemical lifestyle. Trust me, you do not want to eat RoundUP!

 

Instead, ask questions, make healthy food choices and visit the farm as your food destination. Simply by visiting a farm, you re-establish trust with farmers, the real food people that work hard to feed us honestly — everyday, in all weather — and actually care about the nutrition we need to look and feel amazing just from eating good wholesome food.

 

Sadly, it’s a long road back to our agrarian roots, but our only choice if we want to live long lives both happy and healthy. Prevention is the solution. I believe most of our weight and health issues can be prevented with the consumption of organically grown, locally sourced fresh and seasonal food choices that not only make you mentally and physically fit, but reunite communities, capitalize on commerce and promote that consumption of nutrient dense food is both sustainable and positively impacts our environment.

 

Why wouldn’t you want to know the truth in food and get involved?

 

What’s the alternative? You have to eat!

 

Since Jan. 1 represents a grand opportunity to forget the past and pivot, we can all make a clean start. Instead of leaving it all in the hands of mass food production and packaging with meaningless claims, why not start with a good luck gathering and a meal that increases the good fortune of you, your family, your community and reconnects you to foodways and terroir — the cornerstone of agriculture? And the bonus? The food tastes better too.

 

There are a variety of foods that other cultures believe are consumed to improve the odds that next year will be healthy, wealthy and rewarding. Traditions vary from culture to culture, but all are based around ingredients from the farm and guarantee happy eating and an auspicious new year.

 

In Spain, 12 grapes consumed at midnight on Jan. 1 represent one grape for each stroke of the clock. This dates back to early 20th century when grape growers in the Alicante region initiated the practice to take care of a grape surplus and connect the community to buy the bumper crop. The idea stuck. Each grape represented a month, so if for instance the third grape was a bit sour, March might be a bit rocky. For most, the goal is to swallow all the grapes before the last stroke of midnight.

 

Cabbage, collards, chard and kale are cooked and consumed in many different countries on New Years for one simple reason: They look like folded money and are symbolic of economic fortune. It’s widely believed the more you eat the larger one’s success in the coming year.

 

Fish, but especially Cod, has been a popular food to feast on during holidays since the Middle Ages. It was easily preserved and transported allowing it to reach far away lands where it could be boiled, dried and salted. Folklore says the Germans have been known to save a few carp fish scales in their wallets for good luck. Japanese consume herring roe for fertility, shrimp for long life and dried sardines for good harvest.

 

Pigs are the symbol of progress. They push forward and root in the ground. Unlike lobster, which moves backwards, and fowl that can fly away with your good luck, you don’t want regret or to dwell in the past. Often, roast suckling pig is a new year’s custom at the celebratory meal, as its rich fat content also signifies wealth and prosperity.

 

A common belief is that eating beans, black-eyed peas and lentils on New Year’s Day will bring money. Their small seed-like appearance resembles coins that swell when cooked so they are consumed with money in mind. In the south, black-eyed peas reign in the tradition and a dish called Hoppin’ John gives you the opportunity to indulge in one bean for every day of the New Year to symbolize abundance.

 

Baked goods in the shape of a ring are believed to be fortuitous when consumed in the New Year. Sometimes a coin or special treasure is baked inside and the eater will be rewarded with luck in the coming year. The tradition of candied fruit in a cake is made in this tradition that the coming year will be sweet, full of surprises and with great future to come for all, so maybe that fruit cake isn’t such a bad idea after all!

 

Another New Year fortune filled idea is to avoid cleaning your plate. Leaving a bit of each food on your plate at midnight guarantees you will never run out of food next year.

 

So do yourself a favor this New Year’s and make a resolution not only to indulge and enjoy at the big table with family and friends, but make sure you know who made your food and where it comes from to get the big bang for your buck and bring nutrition and wellness to your New Year’s kick-starter diet plan simply by eating local.

 

Remember, if you ate today, thank a farmer. They will thank you too. May your new year be deliciously happy, healthy and prosperous. FarmOn!

 

To contact Tessa Edick, email tessa@farmonfoundation.org. Follow her on Twitter/IG @FarmOnFarmOn.

 

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