It’s spring time at the moment, an emotional time for farmers and growers. We are itching to get sowing and begin the growing season. There’s a burst of new flavours for the cook in the family to use; purple sprouting broccoli, rhubarb, spring greens and the ever exotic sounding Cavallo Nero. Our cattle and sheep have come through the winter and are waiting for the spring grass to come in so they can grow on.
Easter is coming, albeit late this year (Sunday 20th April). Its traditionally a time when families get together. Parties of people will sit and have a drink and then eat something lovely, prepared with care and thought by one or more family member. There will be some intensely serious chat or a load of frivolous nonsense talked as friends and family reconnect. The niceness, of the main course will be discussed and there will be reminiscing and stories of naughtiness from the past and people will laugh over pudding. Does this sound familiar?
These are emotional times and the food sets the scene. Food connects people, so they can relax, feel cared for and nourished, both physically and emotionally.
In amongst this though it’s worth remembering that our food is a precious thing, it’s a gift from the land. All the food we eat comes from the soil. If we look after our soil it will in its turn look after us. Human health and soil health is inextricably linked via the food that we grow and eat. This was the founding tenet of the Soil Association in 1946, who license us and many other organic farmers in the UK. It’s a simple idea, and very easily understood.
So next time you see dirty carrots or muddy lettuce, just give them a wash and remember what that brown stuff is, and that it’s not dirty, or dangerous. It’s precious – it takes 500 years for 1 inch of topsoil to form. It’s the stuff of life, source of nourishment and giver of food, and we should treat it with respect. It reclaims its place as the thing that plants grow in everywhere. Weeds growing through the cracks in your pavement come from the soil under all that concrete. When soil scientists tell you that we only really know 40-50% of what is going on in our soil it’s very humbling and a little humility is no bad thing. So let’s hear it for our soil; mysterious, thought provoking, and everywhere.