By Em Jacoby. Originally published in Geez 61: Seeds are Sacred.
I am repeatedly called back, like a ministry, to the growing, tending, gathering, transforming, and sharing of food.
The seed was planted during one of my teenage summers spent living on my sister’s small homestead in rural Vermont. I heard my sister say: Why not centre your life around something that is essential for it? I looked down at the dough I was kneading as I heard the coos of my infant nephew.
Two decades later, though Kris remains on that rural homestead and I live in a dense urban neighbourhood 1,400 kilometres (880 miles) away, we share a calling to food as though we share a kitchen. I can still taste that dough we were kneading, rich with ricotta and basil. Only now, my ricotta comes from boiling cast-off gallons of food-bank-donated milk from a Nicaraguan neighbour; Kris’ comes from Tulip, the brown cow born and raised in view of the kitchen window, milked a few hours earlier. While my basil grows in hand-built boxes that hang over my porch railing two stories up, Kris’ comes from the rows of vibrant green herbs in her fields ready to cut for farmers markets.
I easily spend 40 hours a week in my kitchen. I find my vocation in the grinding of grains mounding into a peak in the shiny metal bowl beneath, the dripping of whey from fermenting cream cheese, the snap of a sealed jar of canned tomato sauce speckled with basil and peppercorn. Because of my sister’s words – their grounding in sustainability and history – I am repeatedly called back, like a ministry, to the growing, tending, gathering, transforming, and sharing of food. Even sitting here to write these words, my mind wanders to the seedlings sprouting up from dirt-packed milk cartons resting on my bathroom tiles, and to the pumpkin roasted last fall now thawing to bake into spice bread as edible gratitude for a neighbour.Continue reading “Sisters of the Same Seed”