“to give you a future”
I didn’t write the following. It was written by Margaret Boyle for The Old Farmer’s Almanac. But I thought it was wonderfully thought-provoking, so I thought I’d share it with you (slightly edited by me for space and to make my point. You can see the original at almanac.com)
The Negative Calorie Pizza
I’ve made homemade pizza nearly every Saturday night for many years. What’s more, I’ve (unscientifically) calculated that the process of making my scrumptious pizzas actually consumes more calories than they deliver. So you probably want the recipe, right?
It all starts in late September. I collect fall leaves and pine needles to replenish my supply of garden mulch, and haul home large stacks of cardboard from town to keep weeds down. I also split and stack firewood to heat my home and simmer those pizza sauces to thick, aromatic perfection. I rake or till compost into my garden to prepare for spring, then mulch or sow cover crops like whole oats or field peas, to cover bare soil over the winter. I drain, clean and store my irrigation hoses in the shed.
From mid-October through December, I separate the garlic bulbs I harvested in July, planting some and mulching them heavily. I sow a cover crop of winter rye in newly-cleared garden areas. I clean out the henhouse, hauling the droppings-rich bedding to the compost pile. I haul kitchen scraps up the hill to the compost pile and save newspapers and cardboard for mulch.
From January to April, I order the “pizza” seeds, like tomatoes, peppers, onions, basil and parsley, sowing each at the proper time, then watering as needed. In mid-April I haul down and uncoil the irrigation hoses and assemble the lines that lead from the pond pump to the garden, on the hill behind the house. The onions also need to be transplanted about this time, and all beds need to be irrigated and weeded throughout the season. I will then make a new spot for the coming year’s compost pile, turning and nurturing the old pile and adding weeds and kitchen scraps. Two loads of leaf compost will be brought from a commercial supplier, and I will shovel those over the planting beds.
In May I will retrieve tomato supports and polyester row covers from the garden shed, set up the support structures and wire cages, and spread row covers over crops as needed to foil insects.
From June to mid-July, I will periodically harvest pond weeds from the backyard pond and add them to the mulch collection. Then, once the soil has warmed, I will mulch the entire planting bed with an underlayer of newspaper, leaves, pine needles, old hay and pond weeds. I will pull any weeds that do emerge. I will tie up and prune tomatoes as they grow, water garden bends and monitor all crops for signs of pests and disease.
From mid-July to mid-August, I will harvest the garlic and set them in a warm dry place to cure. I will begin a daily check of tomato leaves, removing any with early blight. I will pull the covers off of select plants as soon as blossoms appear, to let pollinating insects do their work. Watering and weeding will continue. I will harvest and dry the oregano and rosemary.
From mid-August through Labor Day weekend, I will remain vigilant with insect and disease surveillance activities. I will harvest the onions and spread them to dry on wire racks. Then I will remove the tops and store the bulbs in the collar. I will harvest the tomatoes as they ripen, then simmer a few bushels down and can them as unflavored sauce.
From September through early November, I will harvest and store crops, spread compost and sow cover crops in bare spots. I will wash row covers, hang them to dry, then fold and store.
And then on Saturday afternoons December through March, I will prepare the pizza dough, fire up the wood cookstove, remove sauce from the freezer, simmer with sauteed onion, garlic, peppers and herbs. Build and bank the fire, heating the oven to about 400. I will assemble the pizza and slip into the oven until the cheese bubbles and browns.”
Now, perhaps you are familiar with this sort of lifestyle. I am not a gardener. At all. So while I’m familiar with all the steps involved, I don’t think I fully appreciate the labor of doing all those steps. So I was very impressed with Ms Boyle’s lifestyle. It made me think more about the idea of the origin of all the food I eat. I mean, I eat a lot of foods that aren’t processed, but even the fruits and veggies I eat are the product of effort. Labor on someone’s part.
But here’s the more important point. The spiritual point…. Pizza was the goal. Pizza was the reward for all of her effort. Over the course of a year, she did a lot of work that seemed unrelated to pizza, but it’s very clear the role that mulch plays. Or splitting wood. And it makes me rethink how I approach things that happen in my life. Unpleasant things. Things that make me ask, “Why did that have to happen?” and “What did that thing I did in September have to do with that blessing in May?”
Again I am reminded that He knows what He’s doing, and that nothing in my life is wasted. Makes the difficult things easier when I remember that.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a hankerin’ for pizza.