Nature Versus Nurture?

“Ewww!”said my younger son, screwing up his nose and making terrible, traumatised faces as he drank the small glass of milk, with about as much relish as if it were arsenic. “Straight from the udder?”
“‘From moo to you‘ it says on the carton.”
“Completely raw? Not treated…or anything?”
“Yep. Cow juice, just as nature intended.”
“Yeurch…”

I got the distinct impression that he would not be joining his older brother in his enthusiastic conversion to raw milk. I am well aware of the pros and cons of drinking unpasteurised milk, but the taste and health benefits outweigh any minor concerns about safety. The hygiene required for this nascent industry is stringent and well-regulated, and the industry too young to have grown complacent enough to take risks. And anyway, I rather like watching the ‘ladies who munch’ graze in the field while I fill my bottle with the milk they donated that morning.

“Ewww” said my elder son, the one who is into healthy eating and raw milk, screwing up his nose at the prospect of freshly picked blackberries. “There might be maggots and stuff…”
“I washed ’em.”
“Yeah but…” It is not that he doesn’t like blackberries. I had just made him a milkshake with commercially frozen berries… berries which are just as likely to have the odd stowaway and which are not individually inspected. His younger brother, on the other hand, the one to whom raw milk is anathema, enjoys growing his own fruit and vegetables. He has no problem picking off the odd slug or eating potatoes freshly dug from the soil.

I am no better. I carefully wash the few strawberries I have from my own garden, but will happily munch on punnets of fruit bought at the roadside and with no knowledge of what, if any, hygiene measures have been employed.

I think it is the plastic. Over the past few decades we have been ‘educated’, taught to believe the supermarket myth that, if it comes in plastic, it is safe, clean food and we are okay to eat it. This may, on the whole at least, be true, but it does not mean that plasticised food is the only food worth eating or that all else is unsafe.

I grew up in a time when potatoes were still sold covered in earth… and I was fascinated by the different colours and textures of the soils that encased them, wondering how that affected their growth and taste. Fresh fruit and veg may have had a blast from a hosepipe, and greengrocers hand polished their display apples, but most of it came straight from the ground… and most food was what is now expensively labelled as organic.

The local farm that sells raw milk also hosts a cooperative of locally produced food items, from organic meat to home-made jams, villagers’ surplus eggs, home-grown and beautifully misshapen vegetables and honey with the name and address of the ninety-year-old bee-keeper on the hand printed label. The honey my son had been using comes from Bulgaria… hardly local and ecologically not all that friendly in shipping miles. And the co-operative ensures a decent price for the growers too.

I still find it deeply satisfying to know where my food comes from, and that includes being able to see the soil still clinging to my carrots and knowing whether the beef in my casserole is shin or rib. Most younger shoppers have never had to wash a potato or ask for a particular cut of meat. A generation ago, few would have been fazed by having to gut and pluck a chicken. Their parents would have had no problem feeding  the bird in the morning and seeing it on the table at night… I know, my mother was good at that. Today, especially for those who live in urban areas, our food is sanitised, generically labelled and sold on looks not flavour.

That worries me.

We seem to be being systematically brainwashed into dependency by the big-money supermarkets. And this is just one example of the way the society we have created for ourselves is creating a reliance upon the structures that are supposed to serve us. Just one example of how our need to know, to question and to think for ourselves is being eroded…and these ar skills we should be employing in every area of our lives, from what we eat to what we believe. We allowing ourselves to be robbed of knowledge about what we are buying and eating… and meanwhile, we are losing the knack of choosing a ripe melon or a tender steak by sight, smell and touch, stifling our senses and suffocating ourselves with plastic. We rely on the supermarket to do it all for us.

More importantly, we are losing contact with the source of our food. We no longer think of the earth in which the potato grew, any more than we think of the lives, both plant and creature, that sustain our own. We forget the balance of sun and rain, day and night, winter and summer. We eat out of season and forget the seasons’ place in the grand and beautiful dance of life and growth.

Greengrocer’s, butcher’s and baker’s shops are disappearing rapidly from our towns. Convenience and the buying power of the supermarkets have already won the day and beggared small farmers. We cannot all afford the extra cost of organic food, especially when there is no farm selling local produce or innovative cooperative handy. But one thing we can all do, every day, is take a moment to consider what we eat and where it grew. It is a small act of gratitude… and a substantial act of rebellion against the fallacy that plastic is best. An act of rebellion that reclaims control and allows us to choose.

If we do not care about the earth that cares for us, we will damage it to the point where it can no longer do so.  It has taken a generation, that’s all, for town dwellers to lose the skills required to provide ourselves with food and informed choice, abrogating responsibility in favour of convenience. We forget reverence and gratitude and our connection to the earth that gives us life.

35 thoughts on “Nature Versus Nurture?

  1. We are losing touch with a lot of things that matter, and the sad part is that most of us don’t even notice they have gone…Slowly but surely, the world is becoming a sad echo of what it was and still should be.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I do agree Sue, I don’t think children today have any idea where our food comes from. I think people are too afraid of upsetting little Jack or Jill by telling them where the meat and fish really comes from let alone that vegetables come from out the earth… That “dirty stuff they have to scubb off before the eat” !
    Sadly not only is plastic slowly contaminating us through our food it is clogging up the earth, our oceans and killing creatures of the earth sea and sky.
    I do feel very strongly that if we do not look to eating more locally sourced food we will very soon kill our planet . You have put all this far more eloquently than I . 💜💜🍾

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Eating locally sourced food is so much better all round…and generally tastier too. It worries me that our relationship with food is becoming so sanitised that we cannot be grateful… because we are no longer conscious of its source.

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  3. Although I haven’t had time for a vegetable garden in the last few years, my kids and I had one when they were growing up. It was so satisfying to go outside and pick what I needed to make dinner and to know that its quality and source were true and good.

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  4. I agree with you Sue.
    We loved it growing our own veg in the cottage, and it was great to go outside and pick apples for sauce or a pie. n NZ, it was even better to go outside and pick a lemon for your G&T, not that I had one, but it as still nice in iced water.
    My aunt had a cow and made her own butter. Nothing quite like it if I remember correctly. The first egg I collected from her hens broke when I washed it, but I loved cooking with our own eggs when we had our chickens.
    I think Kids a re missing out on so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hear, hear! Raw milk is delicious, easier to digest and fresher, too!
    I count myself lucky to have grown up on homegrown produce and our own pork and eggs. In season, we now have many organic, local farms which we patronize and are on par (or cheaper) than supermarket prices. The quality is incomparable. Our CSA is horse-powered as well.
    ‘We are what we eat,’ as they say!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of the many benefits of buying local produce at the farm shop is being able to buy in quantities I will actually use… supermarkets seldom sell produce just for one. And you are right… the prices are often better, and th taste much, much better!

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  6. I am not sure if I would drink raw milk in South Africa, Sue, but definitely I would be fine with it in the UK. I am deeply suspicious of the food we buy in plastic and that is why my Mom and I make so much of our own food. I bake most of our bread, make our dough and bake our cakes, biscuits and treats. My Mom makes home make stews, pies and other meals for us.

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    1. I’ve always cooked from fresh ingredients…and baked too. Not so much these days, except the daily cooking for Nick, but you can’t beat it for health, freshness or taste.

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  7. I’m so glad that in the US we are moving more and more toward organic food. (It’s partially in response to the poisoning of our food sources by Monsanto and the relaxation of rules governing chemicals.) I grew up on raw milk and farm produce.Gardens are magical places. My grandson doesn’t like vegetables unless he picks them, and then they’re awesome! Lol.

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  8. Oh I so love these cows and bulls in the photo. We have a type up in the mountains nearby that look sort of like these, and these are like the ones I used the forked stick on too. To me, they are magical, and a reminder of all the good things we knew and had when a lot of us were younger. I am in the US too, and in California, so I think although we do have organic food that we can turn to, there is so much more we need to do for the environment besides just food, though that is a big one. We are such consumers that everything that is a year old or often less is thrown away. I am the Queen of Thrift Stores and recycling and upcycling because the stuff that goes into our landfills, including clothes and household things, is also polluting our planet. I call my going through the garbage bin location in our senior mobile home park “Tailgate shopping,” and you wouldn’t believe the imaginative and wonderful clothes and household goods I can get there. Hey, they can all be washed, painted, fixed, etc. I have even found what look like brand new clothes with the price tags still on them. It is sad how we have become this way. I loved the old days when the milkman came and we could get fresh cream and milk every day. And vegetables looked like vegetables. I love the misshapen and funky colored veggies as long as I can tell they are not spoiled. We have desensitized ourselves to our beautiful and sacred earth and it is paying us back in kind. People can talk until the sun forgets to rise, but the earth is changing day by day and we need to learn respect of it and how to treat it with the dignity and care it deserves. I do hope that something will change for I love our earth so much, and it is all we have.

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  9. About 20 years ago I was working on a sheep farm. The local school asked to bring some of the children to see the new born lambs. The shepherd showed them around, and at the end of the tour mentioned that the next time they would see the lambs would be on the shelves in the local supermarket. The children were so upset by this, the school never arranged another trip.
    These children really had NO idea the meat on the shelves came from animals. And this in a small rural village. It’s appalling how out of touch children are kept because adults don’t want to upset them with the realities of the food cycle. I expect those children now have children of their own, who won’t have a clue!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There was a study done a few years back that showed some of the most appalling ‘misunderstandings’ about the origins of food… such as children thinking fish fingers came from chickens. Not that I’m saying anything when I recently had to explain potato growth to one of my adult sons…

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