Don’t type with your mouth full…
by Keegan Burke
Part 1: The Cultivator and the Consumer
As with any good love affair, my sultry relationship with food has its points of obscurity and clarity, of shame and pride, of confidence and of doubt. There are two distinct halves to the food culture I was brought up in: that of the cultivator, and that of the consumer.
To understand these halves, one must first meet my grandparents. All worldly, intellectual, cultured people, mind you, but not folks you would find running in the same circles. My dad’s parents hail from northern Montana and South Dakota. They were farm folk, or at least the type of people who had some understanding of what farm life was. My mom’s parents, on the other hand, were city dwellers – urbanites who preferred to haunt their favorite restaurant over a home-cooked meal. My maternal grandfather, in fact, preferred a diet of martinis and Fritos, washed down with a beer.
To put it succinctly, my dad comes from cultivators. His mother, at 93 years old, still cooks her own meals, raises her own fruits and vegetables, and freezes enough soup and casserole to eat for a year. My mom, on the other hand, comes from consumers. Her mother prefers her meals from the local Rubios franchise, out of a box, or at least something you can microwave. This is not to say my mom’s side of the family doesn’t have good taste. I’ve had many wonderful meals with my maternal grandparents, and the few meals I remember Grandma preparing, back when she could see, were quite good, but they were the same thing she made every year – the reliable, the known. My paternal grandmother made what worked, what was available, what was plentiful, what was in season.
My parents went their own way, dancing over the line of cultivator and consumer, and in turn, that line is where I was raised. We always had a garden, growing up, but it was never relied upon; it was supplemental. Now that my sister and I are grown, she fell hard to one side of the line, and me, I suppose I spend most of the time on the other. She’s a farmer now, raising livestock and fruits and vegetables enough to need very little from the grocery store to feed her family, and she’ll often trade for what she can’t grow. I, on the other hand, am a city dweller, but I do make most my meals from scratch, and I grow what food I can in the small space I have to do so. I’m thankful for the influences I’ve had that’ve led me to appreciate the two sides of me: the cultivator and the consumer.
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