Lessons from the heartland


The terrain got decidedly flat and farmlike as we made our way to the far southwest corner of South Dakota. This location was one impetus for the trip…meeting my husband’s remaining relatives. While here, we learned about his great, great grandfather and grandmother, who claimed a chunk of this fertile land near the Missouri River and farmed it with their children, and children’s children, for more than 100 years.

Family is obviously a core value out here, which I can certainly respect. Everywhere I looked were family-style buffet restaurants. Entire families turned out to bowfish at the local dam. (Yes, I said bowfish, as in spear fishing with a bow and arrow. You have to see it to believe it.) Life feels slow out here and more than a bit unsophisticated to my city-honed tastes, but I still appreciate the family sentiment.

Being from Seattle, however, I was accused by the one remaining relative who still farms the land of preferring organic produce. Guilty. Then he and I proceeded to have a rather sophisticated conversation about global warming and GMO crops, and how hard it was to make a living off the soil. Last year’s drought wiped out his livestock; the corn he planted to feed them only grew knee-high before drying up. I certainly don’t envy his position.

Standing out there on that farm, however, I reaffirmed my belief in eating simply, locally and as organically as possible.  He may be family, but I have to believe my way is better.