I have a conflicted relationship with cooking. For the big food holidays, moments of inspired recipe testing, and the occasional soup or marinara prep and freeze binge, I’m your gal. But the day-to-day planning-shopping-cooking-cleaning has never been my forte. Luckily, my husband enjoys it enough (or sufficiently prefers his cooking to mine) that he has taken on much of that responsibility in the family. It is a chore I am happy for him to own.
So when I was moved by the spirit this spring to “subscribe” to a weekly fresh produce delivery service, the men in our house were perplexed. Not only would this mean cooking, it would mean prepping and cooking fresh fruits and vegetables some of which I had never eaten before, let alone cooked (hello rutabagas, I’m looking at you….).
I’m still not sure of all the reasons behind my decision, but one is clear. For the last couple of years, I have been involved with the Council’s work on food as a social justice issue. In that time, I have learned a lot about how our personal choices around what we eat – how much of it, how it was grown, who harvested it – impact our world, and I have begun to view food differently. I have developed a more respectful attitude for what I eat, and this service, which focuses on locally grown produce, would be one way to test my resolve to be a better steward of the abundance available to me.
And boy has it.
In prior years, our wet spring that leaked into summer would have done little more than affected my family’s outdoor plans, but now I was dealing with strawberries that ripened super quickly and an abundance of eggplant, a personal favorite but one I’d rarely cooked before. My husband made scones with fresh berries, I sautéed squash, braised kale and collards, and froze spicy peppers for the chilis and soups that would come with cooler weather. I shared jewel-colored cherry tomatoes with my colleagues. And I was reminded of something I knew from my grandfather’s garden – vegetables straight out of the ground might not be pretty, but there is something almost sacred in knowing that they were connected to the earth shortly before you ate them.
I recently brought early fall apples into the office. More than we could eat at home and too precious to let soften and go to waste. They weren’t super shiny and unblemished like those at the grocery store, but they were a gift from the people who have committed their lives to feeding the rest of us.
Verse 29 from the first chapter of Genesis reads: Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.”
I have not taken on the challenges some do – to eat only what is grown locally, sustainably and organically. And I recognize that my family is fortunate to live in a place where food can be delivered literally to our doorstep and that we can afford the service. But I also know I have gained a renewed appreciation for that verse from Genesis and a new gratitude for what God has provided.
With the arrival of fall, my family and I have entered our third season of enjoying what I consider soul food. It continues to nourish our bodies and to touch our spirits.