Sunday, March 29, 2009

Eat Seasonally, Eat Locally

God had a reason for creating food to ripen at certain times. It seems that the nutrients we need are supplied in the right season. Oranges and lemons in the winter, cherries in the spring, eggplant and peppers and zucchini in the summer, sounds Mediterranean to me. The foods we preserve keep us through the winter, but the remainder of the year, fresh seasonal food is the best choice. The picture you see above was taken after a shopping trip to my local grocery store - artichokes and citrus in season!

Most people today have a disconnected view of food. I heard an interview on TV a few years ago with people on the street in Maryland being asked if a certain law regarding farmers should be passed. One woman remarked, "Why do we need farmers? We have the supermarket." I was astounded. Just recently, a friend mentioned to me that it was too bad we couldn't grow certain vegetables out of season, "After all, they are in the supermarket, so why can't we grow them now?" Amazing. She apparently had no idea that these foods were imported from other lands where they were in season, picked too early, gassed and shipped many miles to this island so we could eat the things we want any time we want. This generation is deeply out of touch with the rhythm of life, the changing seasons, and the pace of nature.

I propose that we live more in tune with the seasonal changes of food production. I enjoy the changing vegetable options as the year progresses. On the corner near my house there is a small mom and pop grocery store. I talked to the owner and asked him about his produce. He said, "I buy the vegetables from the farmers here nearby. It is always fresher." I inquired about the rabbit meat and asked where the rabbit farm was. "It is not a farm for rabbits, it is a house where they keep rabbits." Hooray for local food production! It is not organic, but it is local. So I go with local whenever I can.

Our garden about 7 kilometers from our house is organic, but we do not sell the produce. Instead we use it to feed several missionary families that live in the area. We have avoided pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers. One day we were out with everyone hoeing the healthy weeds out, when one person said to me, "Haven't you ever heard of herbicides?" I said, "Yes, first it poisons the weeds, then it poisons you." Another disconnect from the city-raised folks. There is no firewall between the pesticides and herbicides and your own body.

I am happy buying the seasonal vegetables from our corner store. In fact, when I go to the city supermarket to buy my monthly supplies, I skip most of the produce section and save my money for the local stuff closer to home. I would love it if the local farmers would not use chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides, but all the world has bought into the food production paradigm offered by modern industrial agriculture. I buy organic when I can, grow it when I cannot, and then buy locally to enjoy the seasonal variety of foods.

Aimee Hennen 

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Almond Tree Blossoms

The first food-bearing tree to blossom in the spring is the almond. Its beautiful pink blossoms are showcased against the bright blue Mediterranean sky. Even though the cold winds still blow on the mountains, the almond tree bravely leads the way for the rest of the fruiting trees to begin their march toward spring and summer. 

The almond has great significance in the Bible. Aaron's almond-wood rod, which budded overnight in the Tabernacle while the rods of the other leaders lay dormant, was a rich symbol of authority and the vitality of life that is blessed by God. His rod was kept in the ark of the covenant along with a jar of manna to commemorate the choices of God in delegating authority to the levitical line in ancient Israel.

In Jeremiah 1:11-12, the almond is again emphasized, "And the word of the LORD came to me saying, "What do you see, Jeremiah?" And I said, "I see the rod of an almond [shaqed] tree." Then the LORD said to me, "You have seen well, for I am watching [shoqed] over My word to perform it." Does God keep His word, even though centuries and millenia may pass between the time He speaks and the time He fulfills? He certainly does! One hundred years ago, who would have thought that the promise of the rebirth of the nation of Israel was even a remote possibility. Yet Israel was born in a day, just like the Lord promised. (Isaiah 66:8)

When Moses interceded for the newly freed nation of Israel, he reminded God of His promise, "Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Thy servants to whom Thou didst swear by Thyself and didst say to them, "I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever." (Exodus 32:13)

When I see the almond trees blossom in spring, I am reminded that the Lord watches over His word to perform it. No matter what is going on in the world, everything is under control. This was all prophesied long ago. Is it any wonder then that it is coming to pass? He will do what He said He will do, and the plans He has for mankind will not waver. When we see the fulfillment of His word, it just confirms the trustworthiness of His character, because God never fails to keep His word. The almond tree lifts up its blossom-laden branches to wave in the March wind, a testimony to His faithfulness.

Aimee Hennen