Don’t you think there is some element of irony in the fact that in my efforts to exclude processed food from my diet, I’ve fallen hard for processing food?
I recall a conversation this past week with someone about the enjoyment I get from food processes. No I’m not talking about adding sulphites to my food, I am instead referring to processes such as podding peas or threading summer beans for dry hanging.
These food processes and tasks force me to sit down, to focus and get lost in monotony. There is a constant list of ‘to do’ here at the old farm house. But every now and then these food processes appear, they demand attention and I find myself sitting down, squeezing peas from pods or slicing mushrooms to hang and dry. I wouldn’t dare suggest that it’s always fun, at times it’s downright frustrating. But this way of living, well she’s the boss and when she tells me to sit down, I sit.
I do what needs to be done because the alternative simply no longer appeals to me. I prefer to embed myself in tasks which result in my food being preserved and stored for future use. The goal that drives me is a reduction my reliance on someone else processing my food. The result is I’m eating real food and there is a satisfaction of being responsible for my food that’s difficult to describe. It isn’t measurable in money or stuff, but simply a feeling of purpose.
Today I set up my work station. I put on Waylon Jenning’s album ‘I’ve Always Been Crazy’ on the player. Fill a basket of beans, warm a pot of boiling water and fill a bowl of ice cold water. I pod the beans, blanch them, then finally I bath them in the cold water. They’re now ready to freeze and won’t loose much of their freshness with this technique.
While I’m waiting for the beans to blanch, I whizz last summers now dried chilli to top up the chilli powder jars. Having those jars filled gives me a sense of wealth. In fact, having food in my larder from these food processes is as reassuring as a well balanced savings account.
I think these food processes have been integral part of my saving. It’s the process of working with the food that I’ve worked for to create that’s the key. I planted these broad beans from the seeds I saved from the previous years crop.
I’m whizz dried chilli that once grew in my poly tunnel. I slice wild mushrooms I searched the bush for, or process corn kernels from a bumper crop, or I stuff chorizo with pork I butchered. Every one of these food processes is a reward for me. It’s a reminder of my efforts.
It was never explained to me in the brochure. Instead it’s been a gem I’ve discovered by embracing this way of living. It’s comforted that year in, year out the same food processes return and present themselves in my world. I welcome them back like a long lost friend.