The Door To Our Past Is A Jar

We buy a lot of food that we used to make ourselves.

Consumerism has made the world a better place, but it’s also made us quite lazy. What we used to be forced to make at home for economic reasons, we now, generally, just go and buy.

Last week, I made what was by my own count, the second loaf of bread in my life. Granted, I used a bread machine and didn’t knead the dough by hand, but it was still closer to homemade than a loaf of Wonder Bread from the shelf at Kroger.

This experience left me with the undeniable conclusion that our ability to buy has killed our ability to do.

If you had asked me before I read the bread machine recipe what went into making bread, I likely would have been able to tell you that the ingredients included yeast and flour, but not much beyond that. I couldn’t have told you how long to let the dough rise, or how long it should bake, or at what temperature.

We used to grow what we ate. We knew how to grow it, when to plant it, and what to do to nurture it to maturity and eventually to our tables. We knew how to can it in Mason Jars, or how to store it in a root cellar to carry us through the winter months.

No longer. We have become dependent upon someone else to make sure we get fed.

That’s not good.

There are those, some call them preppers, who store months of food to carry them through a natural disaster or other catastrophic event. That, in my opinion, is a good and wise thing. However, when that runs out, many still wouldn’t know what to do to perpetually replenish their food supply.

A number of years ago, just for fun, I decided to plant potatoes. After a childhood full of working in a garden, I’d sworn I’d never do that again. But age and nostalgia can be quite persuading when you begin to think about your youth. I called my grandmothers and asked for advice. Sure enough, they knew exactly what to do and their advice was spot on.

My wife and I were mesmerized at how many potatoes came out of that one little area we planted.

This led to a gradual expansion of crops, which now includes lettuce, tomatoes, beans, carrots, onions, garlic, and herbs. They are all grown organically, just like our grandparents did it, using mulch and compost.

We primarily freeze what is grown, but we have the ability to can it when we want to.

In a way, we had been relying more on ourselves to provide what we need to survive. I just hadn’t realized it. It took a loaf of bread to give me clarity.

I’ve committed to learning how to make more of what I eat. I’ve asked myself multiple times, “Can I make this or do I have to buy it?” The answer, in most cases, is that I can make it.

Next up on my list is balsamic vinaigrette dressing. It would go well with fresh lettuce and tomatoes, and a slice of homemade bread.


©2015 John Moore

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