Spending so much time in the Pacific Northwest and then making our way down into California has really opened my eyes to the path our food takes from field to table. Subconsciously, I hope that is something that we all acknowledge, but as we picked pears in the orchard outside our door at the winery watched rice being harvested in the field across from our window at the rice farm, it truly struck me how little the average consumer knows about where their food comes from.
Even though we have seen so much land being used to grow everything from apples, peaches, and pears to onions, olives, and rice to pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, and pistachios, we have only barely scratched the surface of what is produced to stock our grocery store shelves. And let me tell you, it is truly incredible.
The winery we stayed at sat in the middle of orchards that supply pears to Harry & David. The winery itself grew some varieties of pears (that we were encouraged to take our share of), but mostly those were used to make hard cider on site. The rice farm was surrounded by other rice farms and a new plant not a mile away that is using the by-products from the rice cultivating process to make MDF board without formaldehyde.
We were lucky enough to get to watch the rice harvest from our window, but since the owner was so busy, we really did not get a chance to talk to him about his farm or the rice-growing process. And I had a lot of questions. However, since this particular farm is a one-stop-shop, we know exactly where the rice was grown and processed that we now have in our pantry. And that is really cool.
This was the first time that we have done back-to-back stays at Harvest Hosts, and while I know I would have marveled at the miles and miles of cultivated fields as we drove down the highway, I do believe that these stays and the short conversations we had with the owners at each place really influenced how much it made me think about food, consumerism, and waste.
I absolutely love seeing and knowing where my food comes from, and I felt so much satisfaction peeling pears for the brown butter pear tart I successfully made (find the recipe here) knowing that I talked with the guy who planted them, that 1 of us picked each and every pear in the tart, and that getting these pears inspired me to step outside of my camper baking comfort zone and try something new (brown butter? sure! no tart pan? no problem!). And then we enjoyed the tart after a dinner featuring the rice we purchased at the rice farm, and it was such a wonderful feeling.
We are so grateful to have these opportunities to get Bird hands-on with the world around her, especially when it involves food (I have never seen this girl so excited to eat pears and rice!), and staying at Harvest Hosts provides the perfect platform for us to have these experiences and remind us where it all begins.