My husband and I have been keeping a restaurant journal for much of the 14 years we have been together. We've chronicled meals in every city we've visited and look back on that journal as a veritable feast of our relationship. While our jet setting has waned, our love of good eats has not. Who would have guessed that some of the best chow I've tasted would come from Hurdle Mills, North Carolina? I trusted Mapquest and trekked out to W.C. Breeze Family Farm with my sons (ages 6 and 4). We followed winding roads peppered with antique stores, farms, horses, and clapboard buildings in various states of wonky stature. They boys kept asking me if I was getting us lost, as I am wont to do. No, I assured them. We were just heading out the real country to a real farm.
Farm to Fork, to be exact. And wow, was it worth the drive!
My city slicker boys immediately complained of the tall itchy grass and slippery mud trails. I was sporting new galoshes, not Crocs like them, so my trek from the field parking lot to the food tents was painless. However, my fortunate state of comfort did result in two piggyback rides for 50+ pound kids. Turns out the workout was worth it. Had I piled all that food onto one plate I would have looked like the culinary version of a hoarder. Lucky for me each tent had its own small plates so I could look dainty whilst stuffing myself like a mad woman. The boys quickly forgot about the itchy grass as soon as they popped a grass fed beef slider with caramelized onions and homemade mayo into their mouths. Ditto for the grouper, goat cheese pizza, deviled egg with dill, and of course, cake, and ice cream sandwiches. I licked my fingers, dabbed the corners of my mouth, and thanked God for whomever invented the elastic waistband.
Farm to Fork was not only an amazingly tasty experience, it was a real educational treat to bring the origin of food closer to my sons. I want them to understand and appreciate that food does not come to us neatly wrapped in cellophane and plastic cartons. They met the farmers who grew the carrots that were so perfectly pickled and the woman who had just picked those strawberries from her field that morning. The only shaky part of the day was when the kids asked me what exactly the pork and beef people do since animals don't grow in the fields. We haven't exactly talked explicitly about the food chain so I hemmed and hawed while I explained that they feed those animals healthy food and let them live a happy, cruelty-free life until they are ready to be eaten. "You mean killed?" my 6-year old asked. "How do they kill them? With a gun?" asked my 4-year old. I shrugged and said, "I dunno. You have to ask the farmer that question." I was off the hook, knowing full well they'd be too shy to ask. Whew. Close call. Besides that hiccup, the boys loved our adventure.
My oldest kept exclaiming, "I can't believe this is dinner! It's so good." On our way back to the car, though the grass suddenly became itchy again to, both boys said they had a ton of fun. For them the joy was in picnicking in a leisurely manner, a nice departure from cloth napkins in their laps and minding their manners at the kitchen table. For me, the joy was in seeing so many farmers and people who share my values to bring tasty, fresh, local food to our table. I can't wait to go to the Farm to Fork picnic again. This time, I'm bringing a designated driver so I can sample all the wine and beer too. Whether at a restaurant, a school cafeteria, or the comfort of our own home, we must find a way to embrace eating locally. It's good for our bellies, therefore our brains, and even better for our economy.
Ilina is the mom of two who writes about food here every Wednesday. You can always find her on her own blog Dirt & Noise.