Monday, January 30, 2017

From Lake to Table


Winter in Montana doesn't mean hibernation. In fact, there is so much opportunity to do things outdoors, you will literally run out of time on the weekends to explore and to experience all the things that are out there if you chose to. Skiing, snowshoeing, skating, sledding, X-country skiing, and fishing are just a few of the very cool things a person can experience not to mention there are still some hunting opportunities as well as just observing wildlife as they find their wintering grounds. All of these activities can go a long way to shake off the boredom and cabin fever for a while and also afford some life lessons if you allow them to.

Yesterday, Patrick caught his first perch ever and then we used the opportunity to learn about more than just how to catch fish but about where our food comes from as he watched and participated, first hand, with taking the perch he caught from the lake to the table. And let me tell you, it was delicious.

But now for a complete left turn. Hold on.

When I lived in Milwaukee, I worked for a non-profit community center in the inner-city. We ran afterschool programs as well as community education and meal programs for the under-served residents where we were located. It was eye-opening, to say the least and it's why I am sensitive to these life lessons and it's also, in part, what has shaped many of the opinions I have about what's going on with our country today.

As an element of the teen-program, we held cooking classes. Now, these classes weren't intended to create the next Top Chef but more-so an attempt to teach the teens about where their food came from other than a box or a bag at the grocery store.

Literally, one day after pulling a loaf of bread out of the oven during a cooking class a teen asked, "What's that?"

When the facilitator said, "It's bread."

The teen replied, "That's not bread. Bread comes in a plastic bag at the grocery store. Where are the slices?"

"Where do you think they get the bread in the bags?" asked the facilitator.

"Shoot. I don't know but it doesn't look like that," says the teen.

It's important to teach kids where their food comes from for a lot of reasons. For instance, it helps teach a more global perspective along with empathy and developing a sense of community that extends beyond the walls of their own home. Take that loaf of bread. How many ingredients went into it? Even with just the basics you have flour/wheat, salt, yeast, butter, etc. etc. And then you have to have someone to bake it, someone to package it, drive it to the store, and then stock it and sell it. Look at how many people are involved in bringing that one product to us. Ranchers, dairy farmers, truck drivers, and so on--all these people we never give one thought about when we're so entrenched with our daily lives but take that bread off the shelves and there's outrage for losing the one place we were going to put our peanut butter and jelly.

We're heading into week two of an era where compassion, community, honesty and integrity have been thrown out the window and I have to say, it's pretty disappointing. I've probably been watching too much TV at the gym but I find myself constantly thinking about teachable moments that will instill these principles in our kids that will help to combat the precedence for what our new leaders are setting. This last week has been one failure after another as we've witnessed overt acts of discrimination, blatant lies and a complete lack of compassion and somehow we're surprised. We still can't figure out that we're all interconnected and we all play a role in bringing bread to the table.

Yes, indeed, there are many opportunities out here in Montana during the winter months for fun and for personal growth and education. It's a daily battle to see the positives given what is happening now but one I hope you will join me in. I realize there can be debate on the "how" we teach and the "how" to meet basic needs of our communities but I think we can all agree, it does start with those principles and I think we need to get back to laying the groundwork and keeping our leaders on track with those principles of honesty, compassion, integrity, dignity and community.

I think next week I'll take Patrick skiing and he can learn about gravity and consequences for action as I'm sure we'll have many examples once the backlash hits from short-sighted executive orders that discriminate against people for religious beliefs and an all out attempt of stripping folks of their dignity. Until then, enjoy this video of Patrick's first perch and then read on for a bit of levity.

I promised levity so here it goes. One of Patrick's favorite TV shows right now is "Alone." If you're not familiar with it, it's a show where a group of contestants are left out in the wilderness, by themselves, to survive alone. At any point, they can use a sat-phone that they have with them to tap out and someone will come to rescue them. The last person to stay out there, wins.
On one of the episodes, Patrick watched as a contestant caught a trout, gutted it on the beach, and ate the eggs out of it raw. Obviously, this was disgusting to Patrick so he was quick to tell me about it and I told him that if you're hungry enough, you'll eat just about anything and it might even taste good.
So, we go perch fishing and I tell Patrick we're going to eat what we catch. He mentions the eggs and that leads to me betting him $5 that he couldn't eat a spoonful of them. He then bets me the same thing and what we decide is that we will both simultaneously eat a spoonful of raw eggs if we catch anything...
You watched the video so you know we caught perch. When we got home, we made good on the bet and let me just say for the record, raw perch eggs are not very good. As I watched Patrick chucking back a tea-spoon of eggs, I thought about pulling out but then I knew he'd never trust me again. So, I threw back my eggs and the slimy yet, gritty mess barely touched my tongue before I swallowed quickly in an attempt to get through the ordeal a fast as possible. Unfortunately, the taste lingered until I was able to privately brush my teeth. However, if I were starving and stood to make $500,000 for surviving the longest out in the wild, I'd definitely be eating them.
Keep 'em where they live...

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