While running an errand recently (in a vehicle with a functioning radio!), I caught the tail end of an On Point interview with Willie Nelson. Something he said really stuck in my mind: “There’s a lot of roads that lead to the same place.” In the interview, he was answering a question about his spiritual life but that simple and profound statement could be applied to so many areas of our lives. It’s a statement worth considering.
In my own personal life, I give considerate amounts of thought to food. I am a farmer, after all. I grow food to feed myself, my family, and other families. And I’m a mama that prepares a heck of a lot of meals and snacks each and every day for my beloved little ones. I came to this agrarian lifestyle by choice. Not only was I hoping to live a simple, sustainable life, I also wanted to live a healthful life. Eric and I each had a parent die from cancer when we were in our teens. (We didn’t know one another yet, but my father and his mother died just a few weeks apart.) At the time, I didn’t have a clue about the restorative, regenerative qualities of nutrient-dense food. Had I known then what I know now, however, I often wonder if I could have helped change the course of my father’s cancer. It’s difficult to think about.
My views on what I consider healthful have changed (maybe I should say evolved) a bit over the years. One road I chose for awhile was that of the vegetarian. Primarily because I was not growing or raising my own food at that time, and commercially available meat seemed the most susceptible to improper stewarding practices, I just opted out of eating it. I didn’t consider the impact that the growing of all the soybeans I was consuming for non-animal protein (in the form of soy milk) might have on the environment, and on my own health for that matter. It wasn’t until I started trying to raise a family of my own that I realized something was up. My very active, very physically fit twenty-something year-old body couldn’t maintain a pregnancy. I thought my diet and eating habits were pretty good, as well. My body was clearly telling me otherwise. I had no idea that soy products contain phyto-estrogens, and that as an infant fed soy-based formula, I would be particularly sensitive to excess estrogen in my diet. My hormones were just whacked out. After a few years of struggle, Eric and I stumbled upon the work of Sally Fallon, and her amazing book Nourishing Traditions. What an eye opener for me. The road I was traveling took a sharp turn.
By the time of this discovery, we were raising bigger and bigger gardens to grow more of our own food. We also decided to raise a batch of chicks to increase the size of our tiny flock. As nature dictates, half of those chicks were roosters. What on earth were we going to do with all of those tenderly raised roosters? Well, the responsible thing… we were going to eat them.
So my road led me back to a diet that included much more in the way of animal products. And if not for continued searching and reflection about diet and health, I don’t think my sweet family would exist today. As you can imagine, I’m pretty pleased that they do.
(Please, don’t get me wrong here. I am not trying to convince everyone to sharpen their canines and eat a steak. That is not my objective. I respect each person’s individual choices and it is my belief that we all have to find our own paths, and live a life true to our own knowledge. I’m just sharing a little from the road that I traveled, and that I am still bumbling along.)
Life gives life. In order for one thing to live, something else must die to feed that life. There is really no way around this. Be it a head of lettuce or a hamburger, an egg or a nut: something that was alive or containing the potential for life is transformed into more life energy by something else. Reflecting on what Willie said I really do see that there are a lot of roads that lead to the same place. And when I relate that statement to my obsession with high-quality food and conscious eating, my conclusion is this: We all live. We all breathe. We all eat. We will all die. This evolving, revolving world is laden with choices. Let us use our keen insight to make the most thoughtful choices that we can. Let us shake off any complacency regarding food and seek answers to our questions. And let us respectfully educate each other so that every living being on this verdant earth is granted the opportunity to flourish. As humans, we share these roads. If I see you have a flat tire along the way, I will stop to lend a hand. I hope you will do the same for me.