I came to traditional foods and urban farming first through my slow-food Food Cart, Fold Crêperie way back in 2003-6. I was one of the first food-carts to use organic farm-based ingredients and Slow food principles in my cooking or to appear in a gourmet food magazine. When I was interviewed (without my knowing it of course) by Nancy Rommelmann of Bon Appetite magazine in 2005, I told her that what she saw wasn’t actually a business, or even a restaurant, but a large scale sculptural piece, an art installation. It was a culture jam.
After I had my first baby, miss Felix Kalypso, I knew I had to move on so I could include my daughter in my daily shennanigans (apparently kids in the kitchen is dangerous to public health). So, I sold my cart and crêpe burners and after some exploration delved into traditional foods and farming. I started fermenting my at-home crêpe batters and increased our flock of chickens from 2 to 7. We got goats and I taught myself to make cheese. We mulched. We dug. We gathered and brewed. I truly reinvented myself and my family. We remembered ancient realities and remedies for modern times . . .
. . . and we had some help.
Over our last 10+ years in being food and farming rebels, we have discovered some truly inspirational texts, books that have survived the test of time and still hold a special place in our hearts and minds. We want to share them with you here:
#1) Nourishing Traditions
Here at Tierra Soul, we love a good revolution. And every revolution needs a manifesto, right? With her landmark book, Nourishing Traditions, author and activist Sally Fallon get’s our started. With the provocative subtitle “The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats,” Nourishing Traditions boldly challenges the prevailing notions of what constitutes a nutritious diet according to the FDA’s Food Pyramid. Nourishing Traditions is equal parts, go-to information packed nutrition reference and wide-ranging, extensive cookbook. It incorporates cooking techniques that have nourished humans around the globe for millennia and provides the scientific research that shows these foods to be highly nutrient dense and healing. The name Sally Fallon was literally one of our daughter’s first words. By the age of 2 miss Felix already knew that Sally Fallon was a family friend and elder who we could turn to for food and nutrition wisdom. While it’s true, Sally promotes an omnivorous diet, the information and techniques described can be used by readers regardless of their dietary needs and choices. The use of lacto-fermentation and other traditional food preparation methods allow the nutrients in many foods to be more easily absorbed, so the information here is “vital” for everyone. In the Lazy Lady Living village, we believe in getting the most out of our food. These healing preparations provide the energy we need to get on with living “the good life”… the Lazy Lady way!
#2) Gaias Garden
A perfect companion to the LLL universe, Gaia’s Garden is also a book you’ll want to keep around, and we’re betting it doesn’t collect much dust on your shelf, either. GG provides a well-rounded introduction to the principles of Permaculture, Author Toby Hemenway (whom we met when buying a couch off him through Craigslist – yes, PDX is still a small town) then applies those principles to your yard. He supplies an amazing amount of incredibly useful hands-on information for the home gardener, and his enthusiasm for the subject is effervescent and infectious… the chapter on soil is absolutely fascinating, and since our first reading, we’ve never looked at dirt the same way! And did we mention we like lists? Well, this book has lots of them! Lists of plants and plant guilds, cross-referenced by soil function, seasonality, color, suitability for wildlife, medicinal properties, etc., etc. It will really spark your creative ideas for designing sustainable outdoor spaces that align your needs with the needs of the earth. An inspiring guide that is empowering in its accessibility… just what Lazy Lady Living aspires to be for you.
#3) Full Moon Feast
A full moon rises tonight…the Harvest Moon. Big and bright as day, it is a reminder of sorts. It reminds us of things greater than ourselves. It reminds us that there is beauty in mystery, and that it need not be solved to experience the fullness of that beauty. And, in marvelous simplicity, it reminds us that another month has passed, that a new moon and season are coming, and beckons to us to come along. “Food and the Hunger for Connection” is the subtitle of Jessica Prentice’s soulful book Full Moon Feast. We have always felt that food and eating are imbued with intimacy, and this book explores the deep ecology of food that meaningfully ties us to the seasons and cycles of the universe. Grounded by the great common denominator among us that is food, Full Moon Feast departs from there, weaving spiritual stories that provide context and meaning to the meals that are gifted to us from month to month, and moon to moon. Interwoven with her own personal story, Jessica Prentice offers wonderful recipes and suggestions to attune our rhythms to those of the heavens and the earth.
#4) Sacred Economics
One thing we are keenly aware of here at Tierra Soul is the dream of financial freedom, not only for ourselves, but for all people. We dream of an economy of justice for the citizens of the world and also for the earth. As we sit in the lap of the mother and combine her incredible elements with our need for contribution and creativity we must find a way to carry each other while keeping our feet firmly on the ground in connection to her. In turn the earth cares for us. Our motto has always been to flow not to grow based on the spiritual teachings of voluntary sharing. However, it can be hard to remember and even harder to implement when one lives in a culture of such complete excess. And then we were gifted a copy of Charles Eisenstein’s Sacred Economics by a farm-stay guest and were blown away by his comprehensive overview, synthesis and treatment of economic history and the shape and dynamics of the problem we currently face. He challenges the reader to see the core tragedy of separation as being not the byproduct of economic injustice, but its precursor. However, Eisenstein does not leave us in despair, but beacons us forward into solutions like negative interest (interest free loans + loan forgiveness = negative interest), gift economy (digging more deeply into compensation and care of each other) and enough (voluntary giving away of surplus). Eisenstein’s vision is new, but it is also ancient. He stands on the shoulders of humble giants and honors them all. Pick up the book and feel the hope and resonance of a true solution.
#5) Connecting to our Ancestral Past
Subtitled, Healing through Family Constellations, Ceremony, and Ritual, Francesca Mason Boring’s book is the first and only book I have ever felt comfortable recommending in the area of lineage and ritual. Most of what’s out there are sad attempts that end up being more cultural appropriation than true insight and gift. Francesca’s book is authentic, generous and hopeful. “The concept of Native science and aboriginal healing paradigms may seem odd, or may in fact be entirely familiar as a cellular level, connecting to the echoes of all of our ancestors; and the reality is that if we go back far enough, we all came from the tent.” Somewhere deep within, we are all indigenous. We are inter-tribal, Boring offers. Couched in both the western tradition of Family Constellation (a not-so-distant cousin of movements like Theater of the Oppressed and Drama Therapy) and her own Shoshone lineage of knowing visions, working with the ancestors and the knowing field, Boring’s work remains culturally connected and authentic as well as open, inviting and useful for all people regardless of how far back their internalized colonization goes. Goes without saying Family Constellation work informs our work with lineage repair and village building to make it more profound and transformational that mere living alongside like-minded folks could ever be. In order for our communities to truly be diverse we must know and heal our ancestral lineage. This book is an empowering start.
#6) Original Instructions
This book helped me make the inner psychic transition from seeing traditional foods only through the eyes of those who had “discovered” it. It helped me reclaim my own ancestral lineages more directly and honestly and connected me to Indigenous voices of reclamation and vision. Original Instructions is not last on the list. It’s probably the most important book on this list, the finally announced winner amongst them all.
p.s. Many thanks to Joel and Marisol in helping craft this article!