Life Imitates Bad 70s Music

One of our goals in moving to Michigan, other than proximity to family, was to be near other homeschooling Catholic families. We’ve met a few already at our parish, but this afternoon was the first opportunity that Mrs Yeoman Farmer (MYF) had to go visit one of them and hang out for several hours.

As I enjoyed a lazy afternoon on the farm (and watched my beloved Seahawks get trounced by the Green Bay Packers), MYF and the kids were having a grand old time visiting the other Catholic homeschooling family (about 7-8 miles or so away from our place). They really hit it off, and our kids really enjoyed playing with their kids. It was proving to be a powerful affirmation of our decision to come here.

And then something particularly remarkable happened. As MYF was packing up and preparing to head on to the nursing home and take the kids to visit her mother, the husband of this family mentioned something.

“Hey, with all the farming you guys do, you’re reminding me of this great website that you should check out,” he said.

“What is it?” MYF says, assuming it’s going to be Joel Salatin or Countryside magazine or something.

“Well,” the husband replies, “It’s called ‘The Yeoman Farmer,’ and…”

MYF burst out laughing, paused for a moment to pick her jaw up off the floor, and blurted out something about that being her husband’s personal blog.

I guess it took several moments of chaotic laughing before they were able to resume a normal conversation. The husband said he’d been reading this blog since last fall, including everything about our moving to Ingham County (MI), but had been holding off on contacting us — I guess out of a desire to protect our privacy. He couldn’t believe that TYF was really…the husband of the woman he was talking with. “Yep,” MYF assured him. “I am Mrs Yeoman Farmer.” That must’ve done it; who else on earth could have used a title like that?

Anyway, MYF called me at the first opportunity to share this incident, and we both had a hearty laugh.

But I couldn’t help thinking, and mentioning, a really bad song from the 1970s. “You know what this is like?” I said. “The Pina Colada Song.”

MYF laughed; though this situation doesn’t fit the details of the song, she knew I was referring to the shock of getting together with someone you already know in a certain context…and then discovering you’ve unwittingly already “met” through the anonymity of media. And then she began singing, “Do you like Pina Coladas? And getting caught in the rain?”

We both laughed again, and talked about how bizarre the whole thing was. And agreed we were really looking forward to having this family over to visit. Soon.

Big Food Making You Sick?

This mother in Colorado seems to think so:

But some days, her imagination gets away from her and she wonders if it’s only a matter of time before Big Food tries to stop her from exposing what she sees as a profit-driven global conspiracy whose collateral damage is an alarming increase in childhood food allergies.

[snip]

Her theory — that the food supply is being manipulated with additives, genetic modification, hormones and herbicides, causing increases in allergies, autism, and other disorders in children — is not supported by leading researchers or the largest allergy advocacy groups.

That only feeds Ms. O’Brien’s conviction that the influence of what she sees as the profit-hungry food industry runs deep. In just a few dizzying steps, she can take you from a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese to Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds to Donald H. Rumsfeld, who once ran the company that created the sweetener aspartame.

[snip]

Ms. O’Brien encourages people to do what she did: throw out as much nonorganic processed food as you can afford to. Avoid anything genetically modified, artificially created or raised with hormones. Don’t eat food with ingredients you can’t pronounce.

Once she cleaned out her cupboards, she said, her four children started behaving better. Their health problems, which her doctor attributed to allergies to milk and other foods, cleared up.

“It was absolutely terrifying to unearth this story,” she said over lunch at a restaurant in Boulder, Colo. “These big food companies have an intimate relationship with every household in America, and they are making our children sick. I was rocked. You don’t want to hear that this has actually happened.”

Robyn O’Brien’s conspiracy theories may seem a little over the top, but her personal experience with Big Food is quite similar to our own. When our firstborn started on solid food, everything he ate seemed to be making him sick. This continued for years, as we experimented with different foods and had him tested for all kinds of allergies. Only when we threw out the processed foods and began cooking from scratch with organic brown rice did his health improve. Whether he was experiencing “allergies” or just “reactions,” I don’t know (and frankly don’t care). What did become clear is that something about the way modern “food” is processed to death was making him sick.

As I’ve posted on other occasions, getting control of our food supply was a big reason we moved to the country and began small scale farming. Yes, there are certain foods that make our kids sick no matter how they are raised or processed; even if we grew our own organic wheat and threshed it by hand, or our own open-pollinated organic corn, our kids couldn’t eat it. The key has been growing the things they can eat (eggs, chicken, lamb, goat, goat milk, fruits, vegetables) and buying organic, minimally-processed versions of the things we cannot grow (rice, beef, certain vegetables at certain times of the year, etc.)

It’s interesting that awareness of problems with “Big Food” seem to be spreading. My only fear is that with stories like these in the New York Times, some will come away thinking we’re a bunch of kooks. Robyn O’Brien might seem a bit paranoid, and perhaps she is. But she does seem to be exactly right about what Big Food was doing to her kids and ours.

Not Available in Stores

What’s particularly fun about having a small farm is being able to eat foods which are largely unavailable in any store at any price. As mentioned in a previous post, we feasted on roast guinea fowl for Christmas dinner. They were delicious; despite being at least two or three years old, the birds turned out very nice after having been roasted in a Crock Pot for 18 or so hours on “low”. Incredible how much gravy dripped off of them, and what a wonderful smell filled our house.

Also remarkable was how much meat we got off those two little game birds. We ended up storing the leftovers in the fridge for a week, unable to decide what to do. Finally, Mrs Yeoman Farmer (MYF) had a brilliant idea: Guinea Pot Pie. We defrosted a couple of quarts of chicken stock, then used it to simmer a pot of chopped carrots and potatoes. Added the de-boned guinea meat (and what was left of that wonderful gravy), then baked it with a freshly-ground rice flour crust.

As we were serving up this New Year’s feast last night, I asked MYF, “How many people in this country do you think are having Guinea Pot Pie for dinner tonight?

MYF’s response came quickly and without hesitation: “Exactly five.”