Gratified

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As those of us who hunt and gather, farm and fish go into the harvest season, the primacy of the human drive for food is, I think, coming home to all of us. My friend Jen, at Milkweed & Teasel, posted a piece yesterday that got to the heart of it.  If you have a minute, you might want to read it.

Food is one of our primal needs, and the urge to get it, for ourselves and our families, is a deep-seated evolutionary imperative. Procuring our own food taps into one of the most basic compulsions, and the satisfaction is commensurately primal. This isn’t about my carbon footprint or my food’s provenance. It’s not about pesticides or food-miles. It’s not about happy chickens or organic tomatoes. It’s something visceral, something animal. It’s positively reptilian.

The kitchen table

The other night, Kevin was sautéing some of our shiitake mushrooms with a couple of onions, and the cutting board he was using was surrounded by our harvest. There was a basket of our eggs and a bowl of our potatoes. There was an assortment of tomatoes and two beautiful eggplants. There was a cucumber salad, seasoned with our sea salt. There were the jars of grape jelly, made from the bounty of my friend Melissa’s arbor.

I looked at it and I felt very, very good.

The gratification doesn’t come from any higher-order feeling like pride, I don’t think. Any bonehead can grow tomatoes. It’s the brain-stem satisfaction of sustenance.

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Comments

  1. I know just what you mean, and I’m not near as good at it as you are.

    I read something today about the resurgence of skills that are directly related to one’s survival- and I think maybe this is why providing for yourself does feel so very good. Anyone can go out and earn money and go to the store for food (well almost anyone), but few of us possess the skills required for providing for our own survival.

    The sad part is that so far I can only provide for myself as a vegan, which I am not.

  2. Agreed. I love harvest time and it’s even better when you’ve grown the stuff yourself!

    I haven’t grown anything this year thinking we would be moving over the summer … then that all fell through and there’s nothing to harvest. Hope my partner’s company makes up its mind on where we’re going next and when before the planting season comes round again!

  3. “Brain stem satisfaction of sustenance” – my new favorite phrase of the week.

    You have a gift for distilling complex concepts, and writing about them so eloquently. If I didn’t enjoy reading your blog so much, I would be consumed by jealousy.

    Your table looks fantastic.

    Because it acts on the primitive part of our brain, I think the whole food procurement activity becomes addictive. The more you do it, the more you want to do it. It’s like a harvest high. I’ll be interested to see what your table looks like next autumn. I bet it includes potted fish, corned venison, maybe some turkey jerky…

  4. After the spring activities of raised bed building, digging holes for fence posts, stringing and tightening the fencing, sowing the seeds, weeding and watering, I view the harvest season as soul satisfying. I am reaping what I have sown. Food never tastes better than when it is in season and fresh picked. The jars of pickled peppers, salsas, relishes and garlic dills that are overflowing the counter have filled the house with mouthwatering aromas and will conjure up summer when the snow begins to fall. The work may be hard but I find the rewards to be deeply satisfying.