Here at the Regionality conflab on Augstralia's Gold Coast we all enjoyed gin pig for dinner. The theme of this gathering is about partnerships and networks, growing farm income by putting together good relationships.
As a prime example of that, the founder of Regionality, Rose Wright, scheduled an evening of entertainment at a new local distillery, Husk Distillery. Each batch of gin makes about 225 pounds of botanical waste--primarily spent wheat.
Rose put the distillery together with a local artisanal pig farmer who feeds the waste to his pigs. That dealt with the distillery's waste stream, but somehow the pigs needed to get into people's mouths. So she contacted the local trade school for culinary arts and they prepared the meal. It was scrumptious, with biodynamic wine and gin to enjoy with the gin pig. A good time was had by all.
Part of the day's activities included a pitch contest by three farmers who wanted to launch larger or complementary enterprises. One of them who wanted to add an educational component to his garlic repertoire said this:
"You can't love what you don't know."
His point was that today's young people especially do not love nature because they do not know anything about nature. Ditto food.
One of the marketing speakers had this nugget to add regarding millenials: "Baby boomers used to ask 'What's for dinner?' Today's young people ask 'What's dinner?'"
When you take these two statements together, they paint a frightening picture of modern care and awareness. In a day when phrases like social justice, fairness, choice, and equality dominate the conversation, you realize how far removed we are from practical participation in the foundation of stewardship.
If we make every billionaire a pauper but do not know how to make a happy chicken, what have we gained? If we achieve racial equality but still destroy our nest, what good did it do?
If we are going to right our nutritional and ecological ship of state, it will take more than gender neutral bathrooms and the elimination of the NRA. It will take visiting farms more than Disney; it will take enjoying our kitchen more than Netflix; it will require applying compost to the soil more than Princess Megan's skin cream to your face.
That we as a culture know so little about food, farming, and visceral ecology should scare us to death. Rose challenged all of us to ask questions EVERY time we go out to eat: "where did this come from, how was it produced, and what farmer produced it? If the server doesn't know, ask the chef. And if the chef doesn't know, ask why."
Sometime soon we must take responsibility for our ignorance and lethargy. If not now, when? Rose said pressing the issue would do more to push correct farming practices forward than anything else we or the government can do. Amen, sister.
When was the last time you embarrassed your dinner party by asking the provenance of the menu items?