1/19/19- Saturday Morning:

“I could start a war over pancakes,” says Rieke, a German ARI volunteer, as we gather for breakfast. The others at the table echo her sentiment.

“Honestly, I will throw down to get ahold of these,” Imani, a fellow St. Olaf student, replies. 

I can’t help but nod in agreement. Pancakes are no joking matter. After singing grace and thanking the lord for our glorious food, and my gosh it IS glorious… the battle for pancakes commences. With chopsticks at the ready and my toughest war face on, I dive in, wedging the utensils in the bowl. 

But alas I’m too late. Elliot and Rieke have already claimed the largest of the bunch. I must admit defeat with my silver dollar sized runt of the pancake litter.

. . .

I wrote about that fateful morning over a week ago now. It was only our second day back at the farm and already the carb cravings had begun. The hushed (or maybe slightly more vocal) yearning for bread or sweets or the comforts of home circulated among the masses. And there at the breakfast table, sat a bowl of pancakes, a special day indeed.

Now as I look back on this moment and reflect on my time at ARI, I’ve noticed a change in my perspective on food. At home or school, I’d rarely gave too much thought to my diet. In One Straw Revolution, Fukuoka separates the human diet into four categories; the lax diet, the standard nutritional diet, a spiritually based diet and the non-discriminating diet. I’d say my diet fell around standard nutritional, I tried to strike a healthy balance between foods that made me feel good, those that gave me energy, and those which simply taste good, but still was rather selective about what I ate.

I often took for granted the variety of food options at my fingertips and the ability to access most anything I’d care to eat with just a short walk to the dining hall, my home kitchen, or trip to a local grocery or restaurant.

Here at ARI, every meal is cooked with a majority of ingredients sourced from the farm itself. As I’ve spent more time here, I’ve become more grateful for the food and meals we produce as a whole, not the just the pancakes, bread or occasional sweets.

The next week we had Saturday breakfast, this time hoecakes (a cornmeal version of pancakes!), I was far more civil and generous with the others at my table. I also became more appreciative of the other breakfast offerings including farm fresh eggs, sautéed potatoes and a kiwi jam to top the cakes. 

This past past month, I’ve thought a lot about what good food means to me. After my experience at ARI, shooing chickens away as I discreetly collect their eggs, working in the kitchen and sharing in community meals, I’ve realized that there are many different types of good food. There’s comfort food, and those foods that make you think of home, there’s flavorful foods, simple foods. But I what I like most about the foods at ARI is that we are all participants in the production of our daily meals. I feel so blessed to have been part of a community that truly puts forth efforts to live off the land. In the end, I have gained a new appreciation for where our food comes from and have become less discriminatory outlook towards the foods I eat.