Book Review: Full Moon Feast by Jessica Prentice
I know what you're thinking..."you have time to read books?" Reading is my favorite way to relax, and I read everyday. Mostly when I nurse, but when possible, also before bed and on the weekends. Or, the occasional afternoon that the kids are wrapped up in something and I think I can get away with pushing my to do list back another thirty minutes.
I've been reading "Full Moon Feast" since I saw it suggested...somewhere, and it's been one of my favorite read. Part cook book, part history, and part environmental education, the author brings the reader through the thirteen moons of the Native American tribes, describing what each moon meant for the people as well as the importance of those practices and beliefs today. Each chapter (moon) ends with traditional, whole food recipes that are sure to nourish.
It took me probably nine months to read this book, but before I was on the second chapter, I sent off a copy to my best farmy friend, knowing she would love it. When I saw it suggested, I mentioned to Oma that I was hoping to get it, and of course, she casually pulled it off her shelf - she has a way of already owning 95% of what I desire.
I learned so many historical facts about women, village living, and traditional cooking from this book, there's too many to count. One of the best finds was how to make traditional ales or root beer by catching wild yeast - something I did from raspberries and other berries growing in my yard. This was some of the best lacto-fermented heaven that's ever graced my lips. (Here's a recipe!)
While the truths of ancient living were like balm to my soul, some of the author's analogies really helped tie together themes and issues of today in my mind. One, I will touch on here before I sign off.
She explains how ancient cultures saw illness as a spiritual issue - a result of a broken, mismanaged or severed relationship. And, they also saw this as a community, not individual issue. She connects this theory with the loss of relationship between not only persons - but people and their food supply, their nature, their Earth...
We've always felt our farm goals center around relationship. More than healthy food and robust soils, we want more community hands in this dirt, watermelon-drenched smiles, and energy on our land. Still, striving for this goal, we can feel a bit out of place amongst even other natural farmers or homesteaders.
Developing a real, balanced relationship between us and our livestock requires us acknowledging that they are animals - they have their own village, desires, and happiness built around their lifestyle, and sometimes, that's best achieved by getting humans out of the way. Sure, they do seem to enjoy to interact with us. But, at the end of the day, after a few licks or sniffs, they walk back to their herd - their community. Sometimes, I have to explain to people that we aren't a petting zoo - we are a place where we respect how animals wish to live.
That also goes for the plants. While beauty surely abounds, perfectly manicured black rows aren't seen between our garden beds and nutritious vegetables often cohabitate with "weeds." They like it better that way, even if my farmy magazines say that makes me a lazy farmer. Really, it means I have to let go of the reigns a bit more to accommodate what my plants actually want. And then, I watch them thrive.
A relationship goes both ways. It respects the other while acknowledging the sacrifice for the community. I agree with Jessica Prentice, the author, that maybe our society is "sick" because we are out of relationship - with each other, our animals, our plants, our water system, our soils...and the Earth that abundantly provides.
I highly suggest getting yourself a very large, warm mug of coffee and a copy of this book - and one for a friend.
*Cover image by Chelsea Green Publishing (chelseagreen.com)