This post contains farmish photos that may be offensive to some readers. But it also contains some images that could inspire you, too!
It’s a wonderful, miraculous world, truly, or at least our little corner of it is.
This post contains farmish photos that may be offensive to some readers. But it also contains some images that could inspire you, too!
It’s a wonderful, miraculous world, truly, or at least our little corner of it is.
Warning: This post contains images and commentary potentially unsavory or offensive to vegetarians and vegans.
My most used cookbook has a provocative title–Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon.
I am not a diet pusher; I am a critic of diet pushing. I’ve long had an interest in diet and nutrition and like most Americans, by the age of 30 I’d heard it all said by the slogans of the diet dictocrats. Eat beef. Don’t eat beef. Eat eggs. Don’t eat eggs. Drink milk. Don’t drink milk. Watch your calories. No, watch your fats. Watch your sugar. No, watch your salt. No, make that sugar and salt. Caffeine causes cancer. Caffeine doesn’t cause cancer. Wine is good, or bad. Grains are good, or bad. I could go on for pages here, but I know you know what I’m talking about. Nutrition science is right up there with environmental science as being ever-changing and ever-controversial.
Currently the diet pushers are promoting vegetarianism and veganism. I say currently, though it goes back many decades, because it seems to be hitting a crescendo lately. As a case in point, a sociology professor demonstrates just how political diet can be, arguing in a recent article that eating meat perpetuates ‘hegemonic masculinity’ and ‘gender hegemony’.
“To study the link between masculinity and meat, DeLessio-Parson interviewed 23 vegetarians who live in Argentina to probe how they deal with their country’s “meat-centric” culture, finding that being vegetarian itself is a political act.”
“Refusing meat therefore presents opportunities, in each social interaction, for the [gender] binary to be called into question.”
My immediate thought, after laughing out loud, was: “So if meat represents ‘hegemonic masculinity’ does dairy represent ‘hegemonic femininity’?”
But jokes aside, what I find most interesting about the vegetarian/vegan phenomenon is that it has so deeply penetrated a few sectors of society where it seems to me to be terribly misplaced: libertarianism, anarchism, paganism, and even among homesteading/sustainability advocates.
I have no criticism to direct at these groups and individuals making their choices to enjoy whatever diet and lifestyle they wish. Many vegetarians and vegans choose this diet for valid ethical and health reasons and I applaud this conscious choice on their parts.
My issue is when, and why, and how, diet becomes a tool of politics. And especially, when those politics are propagandizing and peddling false information.
There are many others out there with this same concern besides Sally Fallon. Some other powerful players have also spent considerable time and research adding to the conversation, like Michael Pollan, Wenonah Hauter, Marion Nestle, Nina Teicholz, Joel Salatin, among many more.
The only thing I can add to the wealth of knowledge already out there is my personal experience and opinion living now very close to the land and our own food sources for many years: Veganism is antithetical to sustainable agriculture, permaculture, homesteading, and any other system or worldview where decentralization is a valued goal.
Here is why, in words and pictures.
Growing grains and legumes requires vast expanses of managed land that is kept free from predators and pests. Our fruits and vegetables require keeping out the vast and varied competition from deer, rabbits, squirrels, feral hogs, birds, rodents and insects of all sorts. Eating vegetables and grains does not equate to NOT killing animals. You’re simply killing/trapping/disrupting other wild creatures other than the omnivores do.
If it is not local, it is not sustainable. Pineapples from Hawaii, kiwis from Australia, grapes from Chile, grains from India–these are all great luxuries and it’s a treat to be able to enjoy them thanks to modern technology and transport. But anarchists and voluntaryists, pagans, homesteaders and all those who understand and recoil at the undue influence of Government power in our daily lives surely understand that without local control of sustainable food production the community, family and individual are forever at the mercy of a centralized system.
If it’s not local, if it’s not sustainable, it should be understood as the icing, not the cake. Leave the icing to Big Brother if you must, but certainly let’s get his hands out of the cake!
These skillsets have been lost and need to be reclaimed–it’s how we all got here, after all. Proper handling of a gun, knife, heavy carcass is skilled labor and if it’s men who are more capable and interested in handling these chores, praise be to the heavens, I say. This doesn’t mean every man must want to do these things, but it certainly means we should not be discouraging them with nonsense about meat as synonymous to a brutal patriarchy.
Vegetables, grains, fruits, most things that grow need good soil. Good soil is created with compost, manure and other fertilizing elements which, in the amount required for the large tracts of land required to produce grains efficiently, and in the absence of farm animals’ excrement, must be purchased, most likely from large corporations.
Cui bono, or, for whose benefit?
In the case of a truly sustainable setting there are many benefactors to a family’s pig slaughter: the dogs, the poultry, the vultures, the insects and the soil. Not to mention the human guests, of course.
In the case of a vegan diet? Big Ag benefits most of all. I know many vegans are well-meaning and will bristle at that comment, but this is just the plain truth. No small local farmer can compete with grain and vegetable prices of big ag. While it’s true they can’t compete with the meat prices either, in our case currently, and in most places without an ideal growing climate, pound per pound, meat is cheaper and easier to produce than vegetables or grains.
With the on-going geoengineering assault on the weather, I expect this will become more true in the immediate future. Even worse, I expect in less than a decade we will all be forced to grow vegetables indoors as the weather will become too unpredictable for even hobby and homestead gardeners to have reliable produce.
Not only do we get to enjoy the ribs, and the hams, and the bacon, oh my, but also the lard, the cracklins (aka chicharones or pork rinds), and the happy dogs when they get pork instead of poultry for a change.
Want to challenge the diet dictocrats? Want the politics off your plate? Don’t go vegan, go hyper-local!
Here’s a good place to start:
Best business idea I’ve seen all year, most impressive!
About an hour’s drive south over 50 inches of rain has been recorded. Here, we had two inches, barely enough to moisten the parched topsoil, not enough to create even a small puddle for the ducks to romp through. The creek remains low, the pond empty.
Of course Houston is no stranger to floods, or Galveston, or anywhere or anyone who has lived along the Gulf South for any short length of time. While we lived there we were so fortunate as to experience two so-called “100 year hurricanes” in just three years — during Hurricane Katrina we were living in New Orleans, during Hurricane Ike we were living in Galveston.
I refused to live in the Gulf zone, anywhere, after that. The folks that remain must really love it there, or be more resilient than I am, or have lives and jobs and loved ones they can’t bare to do without. I respect their preferences and choices, but I chose that we should get the hell out.
Sometimes a woman has to put her foot down. Or at least, compromise, with pleas and tears. No my dear, we cannot move back to Spain, Hubby concluded, but we can move north of Hurricane Zone and south of Tornado Alley.
OK, it’s a deal! I wonder, maybe more women should be making that sort of deal for the good of their sanity and pocketbooks? I don’t want to give unsolicited advice, but if you choose to remain in the Gulf, it’s only logical and pragmatic and wise in every way that you are emotionally, financially, spiritually capable of living in dangerous regions.
I had long had a respect for self-reliance, having lived in Eastern Europe, where to be Šikovnyý (handy, skillful) was taken to an art form. They didn’t take their Skoda to the mechanic, if they couldn’t fix it, a neighbor could. They cooked from scratch, they mended clothes, they had gardens and grew vegetables in them usually, not grass. There was scarcely any packaging, the waste–I remember that as most impressionable of all–there was hardly any waste.
Of course that changed fast as soon as the Soviets left and the new Big Brother took over. This was progress. Goods filling the shelves, boxes and cans filling the garbage. It was as fascinating to watch as it was hard to watch.
It’s amazing how fast life skills can be lost. Or maybe I should say stolen, because that’s what I really think. The skills that kept cultures thriving and self-reliant and community-driven are being stolen from right under our noses, and our parents’ and grand-parents’ and now even great grand-parents’ noses. For the U.S. at least, this goes way back.
Commodify everything, even the very air we breath and water we need to survive. You are not a good capitalist unless you are willing to drown cities at will in order to profit nicely and have the added benefit of restructuring at will.
See, what ends up happening in these recurrent disasters is those folks who are not self and/or community reliant, are not independent and are most often not the least bit Šikovnyý get in dire circumstances every few years and the government and their communities and extended family and distant friends and loads of complete strangers feel absolutely compelled to help them out. Usually through agencies and funds that are syphoning and squandering these do-gooders’ money. There is not only here what Dr. Phil would surely call “enabling” unhealthy lifestyles, but also in some cases, even a dose of pathological altruism.
I saw after Hurricane Katrina that actually what was happening in New Orleans was a land-grab. I suspect the same and similar is happening with every weather event, and, to go even further, these events, weather and otherwise, are being manufactured.
If you find this preposterous, incredulous, impossible, you need only spend a few hours at these sites to uncover exactly how this is done and has been done for many decades.
I know it sounds odd, but those two hurricanes were perfect impetuses for positive change in our lives. Hubby never wanted to live in New Orleans. I never wanted to live in Galveston. We both fancied the idea of having chickens.
And chickens, being the gateway livestock, led to ducks and turkeys, pigs and sheep, goats and . . .
I no longer send money or volunteer, as I had long done, to anyone affected by a disaster through any organization, especially the government. The weather modification programs, and therefore the weather chaos, is a problem they are creating, which they want the public to bare the brunt of on the front end through taxes and the back through disaster relief. It’s a con.
Yes, folks suffer. I get that and I am feeling for them and sending them prayers. Mostly my prayers are saying, “If you can’t handle living in an area that is repeatedly a disaster zone, do like me, and put your foot down, and get the hell out of the Gulf for good.”
It’s just not worth it. It’s not going to get better.
Cheeses currently in our aging fridge, which is nothing more than a cheap beverage model sadly impersonating a cave in Switzerland: Swiss (of course), Tomme (another Alpine cheese), Munster, Camembert (wrapped in fig leaves), Pepper Jack, Farmhouse Cheddar (cloth-wrapped), Gouda, Dill Havarti, Mozzarella (the old-fashioned way), Ricotta. Plus, in the kitchen fridge: yogurt, kefir, Mexican queso, and chocolate ice cream–all homemade with the freshest Grade A, raw milk from small farm, grass-fed cows available for purchase in East Texas.
These are the kind of cheeses one has a tough time finding where to legally buy, or sell, not only in America, but in quite a few other Western countries as well. In most of the countries who consider themselves ‘free’ as far as I’m aware, acquiring licensing for everything dairy under the Federal sun will still not grant you the right to sell such cheeses. Big Brother is so very worried about our health, after all.
Some of these are cheeses the way our ancestors made them–even using fig sap as rennet and kefir as starter culture. Others of them have been made possible only with the help of modern science–freeze-dried cultures in order to create the holes and flavor of Swiss, for example, or the orange-rinded stinky varieties like Munster or Limburger, or the blue veins of the pungent Roquefort, the reliable white mold of a Camembert–which make it possible to imitate, with a reasonable degree of success, the most famous of region-specific cheeses we’ve come to know and love over the generations.
The first time I tasted cheese that did not come wrapped in plastic I was a teenager in France. It was also the first time I tasted milk straight from the cow. I was stunned to realize these products, considered the same from my own home to my host family’s home, had almost nothing in common. To the eye they appeared congruent, but to the other senses they were not even distant cousins.
But it’s one thing to harness an appreciation for the depth and subtitles of a finely- crafted cheese, it’s quite another to think you can make one. In Texas. In an ‘aging fridge’ from Wal-mart. With $7/gallon milk you drive 3 hours to acquire and sometimes using cultures manufactured in a lab.
Is it just for the love of cheese? It’s true, while doubtless they can’t compete with their cave-aged predecessors, still available in their natural state to only a precious few, I’ve made some of the best cheeses I’ve tasted available in this neck of the Piney Woods.
Handy Hubby appreciates my rather expensive and quite time-consuming hobby, but that’s just a bonus. I think these old skills and crafts are crucial to maintain and pass along to future generations, that’s for sure. But none of these good reasons would be enough, even all together, if it weren’t for the pleasure of the process.
The sensuality of cheese-making cannot be over-stated and to describe it would take poetry far superior than is my capacity to create. This is a hobby that touches, demands, cultivates every one of our senses and a fair amount of intellect as well. A whole-minded approach is crucial for success, because process alone will only get you so far.
You may scoff and think a cheese is a cheese, it’s a matter of taste alone, and they mostly taste the same. If so, you poor, poor dear.
“Those . . . from whom nature has withheld the legacy of taste, have long faces, and long eyes and noses, whatever their height there is something elongated in their proportions. Their hair is dark and unglossy, and they are never plump, it was they who invented trousers.”
Anthelme Brillat-Savarin The Physiology of Taste quoted in A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman
You may laugh and say . . . “sound?” If cheese-making requires a subtle practice of every sense than that includes sound . . . how silly.
Someday I will make the case for sound in good cheese-making, because I think there’s a case to be made. In addition to my own experimentation, I suspect I need search no further than the many monasteries made famous for their cheeses for more supporting evidence.
Cheese is still more pleasure than exudes the senses in the thrill of retrieving and treasuring a fading art, and in marrying the inevitable couple of progress and tradition.
“We are all served more and more by factory machines, maybe inevitably, and by schedules, even our own, and in time, as has often been pointed out, we come to serve them. Some of us are becoming chafed by it all. We seek to reaffirm ourselves, to do and make for ourselves, to find new ways to do so–many of them admittedly old ways, but new and revitalizing ones to us and our friends. We want to find out how the basic components of our lives are made and come to us to use. We seek to become part once more of the processes, and possessors once more of the details of our own existence.”
The Cheeses and Wines of England and France, with Notes on Irish Whiskey
by John Ehle
A few favorite references and a favorite resource:
If you want to start somewhere, this is a super easy cheese even a picky American kid would surely like, think Velveeta, only healthy. http://thepromiselandfarm.com/queso-cheese-spread-dip/
Is the Hollywood fascination with vampires attempting to condition us?
Scientist studying mice are thrilled as the results appear conclusive—blood transfusions from the young to the old counters the aging process in the brain.
“As human lifespan increases, a greater fraction of the population is suffering from age-related cognitive impairments, making it important to elucidate a means to combat the effects of aging.”
At what point in human history did the scales tip toward destruction as an acceptable means to resurrection? Certainly destruction is already a foundational aspect of nature, but why intentionally exacerbate it? Prolonging life has been an obsession of mankind since the dawn of civilization, but is this the fascination of the many, or a privileged few?
And where do these precious few draw the line, if ever they do?
The solutions are invariably more technology to solve the problems created by technology. The weather is not acceptable, let’s fix the weather with toxic pollutants. The human life span is not acceptable, let’s fix that with the blood of our youth. Our food is not sufficient enough, let’s fix that with fake food. Kill the bees with science, build robot bees with technology. And on and on.
Data is easily manipulated to serve multiple bottom lines. But you don’t need scientific data to bring up an obvious point to anyone who is staunchly pro-technology, and they are not hard to find. Say to him or her: I can see, from photos and my own life experience, that children today are not as healthy as they used to be.
One simple question and you will have them fumbling and finger pointing–not my industry, not GMOs, no. It’s TV. And the TV executives say, how absurd, we are not responsible for children’s sedentary behaviors. It’s the parents. And the parents say it’s the schools’ responsibility, and the schools say it’s the government’s responsibility, and round and round we go.
I say, scientists and technocrats and fervent followers, the children are more unhealthy, what say you?!
The junk food, the GMOs, the pollution, the vaccines, the internet, the failures of the family, the failures of the government, an unhappy God, disease spread by too many immigrants, too much sun, too little sun, who, or what is responsible?
Perhaps, Oh Wise Ones, instead of finger pointing, might you look for examples where this is not the case? What about look at some communities where it is clear the people look healthier, maybe compare their habits with some of our own clearly unhealthy-looking peoples. What do they have in common? What might we learn from their habits, what might we rediscover from the traditions of our own ancestors?
Weston A. Price did just that. His work is becoming more well-known, but the experts are not convinced. Why? Because they don’t like his conclusions, they go against everything the diet dictocrats have been saying for a century. And, heaven forbid, they have nothing at all to do with technology!
Our ancestors, the indigineous cultures, were healthier thanks to their diets, long before science came into the picture. Science and technology are taking us further from optimum health and longevity, not closer to it, as they seem so intent to achieve.
“In the 1930s, a dentist from Ohio travelled the world to study the diets of indigenous peoples who exclusively ate local traditional foods. He compared their glowing good health, excellent bone structure, and mental stability to the Americans of his day, who were suffering from dental problems, mental illness, allergies, arthritis, asthma, heart disease, diabetes, digestive disorders and cancer. What Dr. Price discovered: • Traditional diets contain abundant vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, D, and K2, found in seafood and the fat and organ meats of grass-fed animals. • When indigenous people adopted processed and denatured foods such as white flour, sugar, canned foods, vegetable oils, and pasteurized milk, they developed the same chronic diseases that plague us today.”
What solutions are we implementing, here on the wee homestead? We started with organic gardens and poultry, then beehives, now we have just added piglets. Sheep and goats are coming soon. We cook our meals from scratch, slaughter our own meat, bake our own bread, make our own cider, and our own cheese.
Should through our efforts we manage to live long, healthy, productive lives, we will die peacefully when our natural time comes, contented we did not feed on the blood of our progeny. We may even be blessed enough to benefit future generations by safeguarding some of the skills acquired by our successful ancestors over thousands of years.
This week’s breadcrumbs:
Technology gone seriously bat shit crazy, and folks are lapping it up.
While listening to the above interview Handy Hubby quips: “Closing the blinds on your windows now means you must be doing something wrong.”
There is a special kind of euphoria that comes from harvesting my own food that I have not felt in any other productive endeavor. I read somewhere that the worst day working in cooperation with the land is better than the best day in the office, and I must wholeheartedly concur.
If only I’d learned that sooner, I would not have such steep learning curves to navigate in middle age!
Mushroom hunting is certainly on the top of that steep learning curve list, not to mention a potentially deadly hobby. While there are actually only a few truly deadly mushrooms, there are many that will make you sick and quite a few choice species that are so similar to poisonous species that even experts are occasionally fooled.
For the novice mushroom hunter there are only a handful of no-brainer finds, and as the dogs and I walked our trails this morning, I spotted one of the choicest of these, the Hedgehog. Actually there were three, and I took the biggest, a whopping one pound ten ounces. Interestingly, the season of these mushrooms is winter, which makes me wonder, when it’s still an unseasonal 85 degrees Fahrenheit here and hasn’t rained in many weeks, how do they judge winter exactly?
In the garden it’s the summer crops that are thriving—to accompany my Hedgehog mushroom I harvested some cucumbers, radishes, basil and Napa cabbage. The second crop of tomatoes this year are nearly ready too. If Handy Hubby were home I’d add to that some thinly sliced duck breast. Then I’d look at our plates and think wow, I can’t believe how often now our meals come from our own land, our own hands. What amazing peace of mind this is considering how unhealthful and/or expensive food in the grocery stores has become, with the distinct impression it’s only getting worse.
If I turn on the TV or read a newspaper I’m reminded I once considered the daily grind and the endless mindless consumption ‘reality’. Now I often watch and read the various panic porn channels online and sometimes they get me pretty riled up.
Then I walk out to our garden or through our woods and I remember what is really reality. Civilization is not realty. And what we are currently calling civilization is about as far from reality as it gets.
Y’all can keep it! My happiness is in the hunt and the harvest and of course, Handy Hubby. All the rest of it is worth less than a hill of beans.
Our faithful and exuberant foraging, hunting, harvesting companions. 🙂
After several grave posts it seems an upbeat update, some good news and great resources are in order. So, I will for a moment ignore that it’s still sweltering here and in the 90s with no decent rain for far too many weeks.
Normally we’d have flourishing fall crops by now, but many are struggling with the daytime heat. Two decorative/medicinal favorites that keep my spirits up with their beauty and endurance when so much is brown or perished are Datura and Castor Bean.
Datura Inoxia at dusk emits a sensual lemony fragrance
These old timers are highly under-rated in the garden, in my opinion. They are useful, rugged and gorgeous and so misunderstood in our modern culture as science labels them “poisonous” and horticulturists scare folks away from them simply because if your pets or children eat a handful of their seeds they’ll most likely vomit. Should they choke down entire sections of these plants, they could die.
Interestingly, there are very few documented cases of such stupidity. Our chickens scratch and peck all around under these plants and don’t get sick. And our Great Dane-Mastiff loves to sniff the just opened flowers at dusk, as do I, and our bees!
The bees also enjoy the arugula blossoms, which is another favorite heat-loving plant and my favorite lettuce. I have a great many books on plants, but two favs are: The Herbal Lore of Wise Women and Wortcunners by Wolf D. Storl and Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plants by Claudia Muller-Eberling, Christian Ratsch, and Wolf-Dieter Storl.
Speaking of our bees, the feral hive that was relocated from an old steel drum in the spring is still hanging in there. After some concern for their slow growth I was able to locate the queen. My first queen-spotting–it was a proud moment–it’s pretty tricky for us newbees!
Feral hive relocated to our top bar hives
I’ve been experimenting with companion planting and it’s true, carrots really do love tomatoes and roses do love garlic. Not all of the companions or incompatibles from these books have proven correct for me, but those two definitely do. Roses Love Garlic and Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte.
New favorite dish: duck confit–duck legs and thighs slow-cooked while submerged in duck fat, then fried in the fat before serving. For all those who might be thinking this sounds like a cholesterol nightmare, I say, don’t knock it until you read the research of The Weston A. Price Foundation.
Duck confit in the works–so delish!
Best resource this year: The Art of Natural Cheesemaking: Using Traditonal, Non-Industrial Methods and Raw Ingredients to Make the World’s Best Cheeses by David Asher. A shout out to the fantastic website Little Green Cheese for introducing me to it, it has absolutely been an eye-opener. I’ve been making cheese for a couple years now, and this is the book I should’ve read from day one.
This, in my humble opinion, is the way cheese was meant to be made. Most of the recipes use kefir, who knew, kefir as a cheese culture! Clabber cheese has become a new standby, which is really ironic, because it was a staple for so many of our ancestors. It’s basically raw milk spoiling on the counter-top.
Handy Hubby had to taste it to alleviate his automatic doubt and skeptical disgust. I learned a new expression from the famed Michael Pollan in his fascinating new series Cooked! He calls the miracle of cultures and molds and so forth,“The erotics of disgust.”
Unfortunately, for most folks’ health, their disgust-threshold is disastrously low.
By the way, the Clabber cheese got the thumbs up from Handy Hubby! 🙂
Another by the way, the above rose is La Duchesse de Brabant, another fav who fares well in the heat.