Food is Sacred

Spring break this year marked a couple of firsts for me. For one, it was my first Alternative Break Immersion trip that I led six undergraduate students to a farm in Chelsea, Michigan about thirty minutes from Ann Arbor. After playing tetris with our bags to fit them in the trunk, we hopped in the van and bid goodbye to the skyscrapers and taxi cabs of Chicago. None of us knew quite what we would spend the week doing, we had a vague idea of what happened on a farm and knew we might be milking a cow or two. Late afternoon we arrived to a small, dusty white farmhouse and were greeted by Deb and Richard, the husband and wife team that left their former occupations as a teacher and carpenter to live the simple life.

Snow covered the ground and we were told that this week would be spent in preparation of the coming thaw. Weeds needed to be cleared, cow sheds had to be repaired, chicken coops 
 eeded to be cleaned, and spinach was to be picked. When we weren’t working, we were eating. The students paired up and were assigned meals to cook for our community that consisted of the four interns working on the farm, for Deb, Richard, and their eleven year old daughter Ari, and the Loyola kids (as they lovingly referred to us). Throughout the week, I gained an appreciation for the process it takes for food to go from farm to table. That is, wholesome, organic food; not food that has been laden with preservatives, artificial flavors or chemicals, and transformed into powder in a box. To nurture nature and have it in turn was a beautiful thing, and something we often fail to think about.

Tantre Farm has existed since 1993 and is named after the Buddhist concept of tantra, or 
oneness with oneself and the world. One night, as we gathered around the table, I asked Rich what it was that attracted him to this lifestyle. He said with a smirk, “I like to eat good food.” I learned as he spoke that he wasn’t just talking about dishes that tasted good, although he certainly loved that as evidenced by a heaping second helping. Rich was referring to a special long-term relationship with the living things around us. The soil, fruit, vegetables, animals, eggs, and the people that prepare the food all play a part from tilling the soil to picking the produce to stirring the pot. Simple food produced with good morals at the heart of the work. No corporate giants or government subsidies, no shortcuts or corruption of the environment. Over the week we learned that food is sacred, when bread is broken with friends and the spinach picked from the greenhouse this morning appears in this evening’s supper eating becomes what some might call a spiritual and even tantric experience.

Christina Ferrari

Student Affairs - the First Years

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