After the Fall

We wanted to share with you all this reflection from our good friends and chef partners Matt and Kate Jennings, who run Farmstead Inc., a neighborhood artisanal cheese shop in Wayland Square here in Providence. They also own the bistro next door, La Laiterie, which features local, handmade, and seasonal cuisine inspired by their travels abroad. The Jennings clearly have a passion for food that nourishes both the body and the spirit, and that is especially apparent in the message from their latest newsletter. We think it expresses very well how we as a culture came to lose our connection to the food we eat—and how we are now, hopefully, finding our way back. Click below to read their thoughtful essay.

After The Fall

Food. It is a significant and convivial part of every culture. Food is a form of communication: who grows or raises it, how we acquire it, what and how we consume, who is creating or preparing it, and who is at the table to appreciate it, reflects a fragile ecosystem of shared experience- the bond of nourishment and enjoyment that can simultaneously bring us together, tear us apart, determine our social or economic status or our standings in our community- and even define our ‘haves’ and our ‘have nots’.

Food is social. Food is political. Food is economic. Food is more than nourishment. By what we choose to eat and by whom we eat with, we make a statement. Through food and our rituals of its consumption, we strengthen bonds between one another, between our communities, and on a grander scale— our regions and countries. Food is heritage, history and culture— future, past and present.

Our rituals surrounding the food we obtain— how we cook it, with whom we consume it- these are all varied and significant. Our options for what we put on our table may be vastly different from culture to culture, community to community, but one thing is for certain: We all embrace the desire for perpetual nourishment— we all strive for, and expect, that even if the availability of food may be scarce, the option— that choice to nourish ourselves, is an unalienable right.

Some waste. Some want. The divisions that exist between those who have access to food and those who don’t, are immense. How can we work to tighten this circle- to breach this expanse? How can we work towards creating and maintaining local and regional food systems that are available for all to take advantage of- not just those who can afford them?

Since most can’t, we watch from the sidelines as conglomerates and corporations make back room deals with producers and distributors, creating high yield, low cost, genetically manipulated and laboratory engineered foods. This isn’t solving problems, but creating more. The political systems in our country only support these dangerous maneuvers by the industry giants, and without consumer involvement, the rolling stone gathers no moss and we are left to fend for ourselves.

It seems we have fallen, and we can’t get up. Before the fall, before the invention of the combine harvester, the creation of synthetic pesticides and herbicides, even before the convenience of TV dinners- we were a country of artisans— more by necessity, than desire. We grew our own food. We cooked. We harvested and ate that which grew near us, and depending on the severity of seasons, when the cold winter months came, we pickled, cured, smoked and preserved our way through the blustery, bullying cold.

Now, after the fall— the post war “good” food decline— we seem to be picking ourselves up again. Hand-crafted foods are finding a re-resurgence, and ultimately, their place in the food landscape. Producers are crafting these foods not simply out of necessity, but out of love, passion and connection to the creation of wholesome, hand made products. There is a new breed of artisan in this country— those who are working to secure healthy local economies through hard work and dedication to craft. They are proving that there are economically viable methods of artisan food production, and that communities can benefit and thrive from the connectedness that the creation of hand made food can bring. After the fall, we are finding our way back to food that is real, true, wholesome and well made.

In our new and improved email newsletter format, our goal is to share this movement with you. There will be a highlighted product in every email, with a detailed description of where that item comes from, by whom it is made, and its applications in your home kitchen. Likewise, we will offer a recipe with every newsletter, highlighting this or other artisan products, to help you embrace the burgeoning food revolution at home. With the expectation that the groundswell of support for authentic foodstuffs— food with a sense of place, history and heritage, as well as the farmers and producers that create these foods, will continue to flourish— we are eager to share more with you, and to offer more insight into the world of hand crafted, American foods.

Happy Fall. As the temperatures drop and the sun fades early, make sure to savor every bite!

Matt & Kate

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One Comment to “After the Fall”

  1. The message is all well and good, but Farmstead is an artisanal business model supported by and insulated behind wealthy consumer bases; what they refer to as “community” still excludes the majority of Americans…no?

    “Some waste. Some want. The divisions that exist between those who have access to food and those who don’t, are immense. How can we work to tighten this circle- to breach this expanse? How can we work towards creating and maintaining local and regional food systems that are available for all to take advantage of- not just those who can afford them?”

    Good questions.

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