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Eating locally, sharing globally

October 3, 2017
Another Way for week of September 30, 2017
Eating locally, sharing globally
I feel very fortunate to be still canning green beans here in late September. We had a bumper crop of pole beans this year and now we’ve been giving them away.
Here in Virginia, green beans are the staff of life. You thought bread was called that? Many of my husband’s relatives here grew up eating green beans every day, so canning summer’s bounty—if you were lucky enough—was a task lasting long into the fall. Until frost comes, if they bear that long.
We were elated to have some to pick and can when two of our grandsons were here earlier in September. I captured some of the memories in photos you can see here I also share there a photo of my daughters helping to can beans when they were small—and actually when one of them was still just a little bean herself—in the incubator if you get my drift.
We’re also enjoying the last of our corn plantings, and may still have some into October, if the weather holds. [Postscript: had some again last night, Oct. 2!] I remember when one daughter’s citified college friend asked how we got our corn to grow to different heights in the garden. We squelched smiles to explain that we planted multiple rows about 2-3 weeks apart to spread out our enjoyment over months, not weeks. I think he was somewhat taken aback that he had not been able to figure that out! Corn on the cob is also our staff of life from late July through late September, eating it almost every evening (if we are at home), unless we are between plantings.
Gardening—and preserving what you pick—looked like it was going to be a lost art but both activities have made a huge comeback over the last 10-20 years spurred on by farmers markets, roadside stands, eating “locally,” and the classic, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (published 2007). One friend of my oldest daughter cans jams and various salsa mixtures, and together they experimented with canning some apples, ready to pop into homemade pie crusts.
I was reminded recently of another “dying” art that I personally don’t care to ever revive, and one that my mother hated. I ran across this story from a reader of this column:
You mentioned in your column that you were raised around the Amish as a child. I was also raised in a neighborhood like that. It was my family and another family that was not Amish on our little country road. My summers were spent at the neighbors. I was in high school before I knew you could buy chicken from the grocery store. I thought everybody had a grandma who butchered chickens.
Even though my Mom hated it, I’m sure my grandmother did butcher chickens but she probably didn’t like it better than anyone else. I only remember one time my father decided to butcher some roosters. When we got new chicks, some boy chicks always slipped through and some grew up to be mean, pecking us, and loud. So Daddy chopped their heads off (was it revenge?) and mother went through the whole ordeal of scalding and picking off feathers, likely muttering the whole time. Today, why do all that when you can pick up a chicken at the market for mere dollars, right? Or buy a rotisserie chicken for $5 and not even have to roast or fry it? So we all choose our shortcuts and decide how far we’ll take this “eating local” thing.
Most of us in North America do not know what it means to be truly hungry, unless we have struggled with poverty. Having children and now grandchildren has made my heart soft when I see glimpses on the news, in magazines, or online, of children truly suffering with illness, starvation, and want. Reading books that tell some stories in depth touches my psyche. If we have been blessed not to suffer in this way, we also have many opportunities to share liberally with others, especially during this season. I’m thankful that’s one thing my parents gave me along with everything I needed: a heart for the hungry. One organization we try to give to every year is CROP, along with our local food pantry. Choose your charities carefully of course.
And remember to offer thanks to God, creator of all.
What is your favorite summertime produce, whether you grow it or buy it?
Do you have any canning or butchering stories to share?
How do you share from what you’ve been given to others?
What is your favorite way to help or donate?
One place we’ve been able to give our surplus produce is Our Community Place. Perhaps you have similar services in your town.
Send to Another Way Media, Box 363 , Singers Glen, Va. 22850 or
Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.
  1. We have a huge garden and grow a variety of vegetables to eat fresh and also can and freeze. My favourite fresh veggies are cucumbers. We share vegetables with other colonies who for whatever reason, hail, drought, flooding… lost theirs. We also donate to places like Siloam Mission, a homeless shelter.

    • Cucumbers are among my favorites too, they are versatile and virtually have no calories, right? Sharing veggies between colonies is awesome! The place I mentioned, Our Community Place, is like a daytime shelter for homeless people who often have to leave shelters in the morning and be out for the day. Thanks for commenting from your corner of the world!

  2. Green beans are my favorite vegetable with corn a close second. I like how you share. Right now I’m sharing $$ so people can have water. Water! So many are deprived right now. It makes me heartsick.

    Cucumbers are marinating in a pickle juice in my kitchen at the moment. No garden in the city, but I’m content to buy fresh produce.

    Canning or butchering stories? I’ve shared a few from my Grandma and Mother Longenecker. As a young teen I worked in a bologna plant. Every Thursday steers got butchered. We heard sounds. Need I say more?

  3. I’m wondering how you like to fix green beans that makes them a favorite. Mine are so ordinary. I a friend from church sautes hers in a cast iron skillet, adds onions and garlic, and they are just super delish!

    Yes, water is so very precious and we do not value it when it is plentiful.

    I know you read Lucinda Miller’s Anything But Simple. The description of the steers at butchering is tightly written and well done, but oh so jarring, and I think I finally figured out what the passage is doing in that book!. No, no need to say more! But thanks for this!

  4. Athanasia permalink

    We love all summer vegetables especially the sweet corn and the tomatoes and the green beans and beets and the lettuces and radishes and….well everything. We grow just about all we need. We grow some potatoes and onions but they are very cheap here (9.50 to 10.50 for 100 lb potatoes for example) so we don’t concentrate on those. We do a lot of canning, some freezing, some drying. We also have root cellars so we store most of our root vegetables that way. Our growing season is very short so everything overlaps at once. We have had bumper crops this year of pole beans and tomatoes. I have never had so many tomatoes.

    There are only 3 of us at home now, but our gardens are shared by us, my oldest girl and her family and our tenants. My older son and his family have their own garden though his wife and her parents ( who live with them) are Chinese and they grow some different things and we share items. My younger son ( who gets married in 4 weeks!) has a small garden at his house in the city. Our middle girl who lives about an hour away we keep supplied with home canned items as needed and fresh at visits.

    On Sundays, folks bring extra produce into church and anyone can help themselves. There is a food pantry in town that will take donated garden produce. We have a family run farm stand that sits on the road in front of our house. It is run by 2 of my uncles and their wives, but we are on a busier road than their side of the farm. They also sell at the farmer’s market on Saturday morning. There is a group that comes around and collects from the stands at the market if you want to donate your leftovers, and home gardeners can drop of excess there too.

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