A Taste of Place Blog Post by Suzanne Ferraro

In the reading called A Taste of Place, I found it interesting that terroir is a French term that means “a sense of place.”  I did not know that when someone says a wine exhibits “terroir,” all they mean is that they describe how the wine they are drinking tastes or how the grapes are grown. Regions influence how grapes/food are grown and should taste. I learned there is an important connection between taste, food, and their origins. Origin is very important in countries like France, which emphasizes the region. This aspect is heavily subsidized by the French government as important to the country, its agriculture, and the food industry. Culture and taste are important to one another, especially in particular places or geographical regions. The act of tasting, with a bite of food or a sip of wine especially, says a lot about culture.

Taste is the difference between food as a substance and food as part of life or society. I agree that food helps us survive, but it also can do more for our lives, and eating habits and how we eat certain foods greatly influence us. It reminds me of the saying, “You are what you eat.”

 In Chapter One, I noted that the reading A Taste of Place talks about much more than just taste and culture. I learned that there is a link between place, taste, and the type of agriculture; quality directly impacts cuisine. I found it interesting that it mentioned that the reading talks a lot about how people who grow food and prepare food also shape our taste perceptions beyond the taste of the food into how it is representative of something. I found it interesting that there are different claims and how the taste of place is extending or has been adopted as a definition for people worldwide. Another fascinating thing I found was that the environment impacts the flavors of food and beverages, but the cultural connection has an impact. A place’s taste can also represent a feeling or a connection to the food.

Chapter 2 of the reading mentions that different flavors are linked to where food could come from. I thought the reference to Vermont was similar to the description of how the French would value their production, wine, and the good quality of food. These things can represent pride in how the food is grown and reflections on the culture, especially their region.  

I think Americans value food differently because, in the United States, we expect food to be cheap and have mass production quality. This is not always good. I think Vermont is the exception, and not many areas or food producers place an emphasis on food as a craft.

The reading seems to examine the idea of food origin, quality, and identity, which is similar to last week’s reading. I think Americans especially have different values that do not necessarily extend to food quality. France seems to associate a specific kind of wine, such as champagne, with the location where it was made, and how much it should cost. I agree that smaller places like the cheese maker in Vermont may have a similar association with food, but that does not extend to every place in the U.S. I think the idea of slow food was interesting, along with the association of Vermont maple syrup with quality and both are similar to the focus of the organic farming in Gaining Ground. Still, this is not as common in America as it should be.  

Gaining Ground: a story of farmers markets, local food, and savings the family farm

Gaining Ground by Forrest Pritchard is a inspirational story regarding one man’s life long aspiration of reviving his parents farm after years of drought. The trails and obstacles this one man faces might deter some, but his passion for farming and drive for success pushes him through. Though a college with a simple degree and his corporate career parents breathing done his back, he is constantly questioning whether he should continue and if it’ll be worth the journey. Something I really enjoyed throughout the book were the flashbacks to his childhood that he would relate back to each chapter concept as well as the additional photos had as a visual to make the book far more personal. As we read the book, this man’s determination is unwavering and inspiring to someone around his age when he started the journey of creating this legacy. A quote that was important was one found on the last page, in the last chapter that touched on how saving the farm was an ever going process, and not just simply and instant gratification. For it requires the fundamental pieces of time, patience and drive to continue the farms thriving nature. I feel as though that speaks to not only the revival of his family’s farm but also to life. For we must take the good with the bad, accepting when something isn’t working and still continue to look for a new way or moving on. That’s the essence of life. 

Blog Post #6

Gaining Grounds is about Forrest’s family and how they overcome the obstacle of getting their farm back on shape to be running good. At the beginning Forrest leaves his career as becoming a teacher behind for becoming a farmer. The farm in question was a generational gift from his family it’s been passed down for about 6 generations. Even with no knowledge of what he was going to do with the farm he decided to take on that challenge. As the story progressed he went thru the trials and errors of selling firewood, to selling meat, to chickens, and the list goes on. With changing the name to Smith Meadows it became more clear to Forrest on what he was trying to achieve with the farm, from making it sustainable and all nature, he wanted there to be full transpecancy in it being all natural. At the end of the book Forrest claims that they weren’t just selling stuff for the farm but fixing it up from what it had become.

Gaining Grounds

The book opens explaining the author’s connections to his family farm. He explains how his grandparents would farm strawberries, corn, and cattle, but after being transported and processed, there was no way to know where the food ended up. The author dropped out of college to become a farmer on the family farm, despite it barely making a profit at the time. In fact, soon after the author dropped out of college, he learned that the profit his family made after filling multiple trucks with produce was merely $18.16, and his father had accrued $50,000 of credit card debt. The work was physically demanding and also dangerous; an older farmer got a concussion and broken ribs from a bull attack, and the author almost got pinned against trees in a tractor crash. The author started selling firewood from already fallen trees and earned a nearly $2,000 profit in the winter; however, the wear on the truck caused a $4,600 repair to be needed.

After eating a fast-food hamburger and realizing that it is impossible to know where the meat came from and if the cattle was treated humanely, the author decided to raise cattle like his grandparents without corn or feedlots. Him and his parents were inspired by speakers at a farming conference. The family started humanely raising chickens fed leaves and seeds above their heads so they would not have to strain their necks, and his father sold them on the metro to D.C. and cubicle-to-cubicle at work. Additionally, the author bought a freezer to sell frozen beef out of the back of his truck, but the freezer fell onto traffic and broke. Sustainable practices were implemented, such as dividing the lot to keep cow manure in the fields and not running off into the waterways. He was also worried about raising animals ethically and slaughtering them in a way that would minimize suffering. The author and his father went to their first two farmers markets with their organically raised beef, chicken, and eggs, but they sold much less than they were intending to. They later started selling at a farmers market in Arlington which was more successful. He started raising pigs and goats too, and his wife Nancy sold pasta sauces. He also started a “self-serve” farm store that was always open on an honor-code system so that everyone could have access to shop locally at any time. The way that he changed this farm was unconventional; he wrote “I dreamed of a farm that was self-fertilizing, drought-resistant, sustainable both economically and environmentally” (287), and “There were no concrete feedlots, no antibiotics, no supplements laced with hormones. This was the very definition of ‘slow food'” (288).

Blog Post-6

Pritchard argues the importance of sustainable farming practices and the need to support local food systems. Pritchard points out that small-scale and community-based agriculture can offer numerous benefits, such as healthier food options, environmental conservation, and economic resilience. He does this by advocating for a shift in our consumer behaviors towards supporting local farmers and choosing ethically produced, sustainable food. He also states that this change in mindset can not only benefit individual health but also contribute to the preservation of rural communities and the environment. Throughout the book, Pritchard explores by first-hand experience the challenges that farmers run into, like the dominance of industrial agriculture, the struggle to compete with large-scale operations, and the financial hardships that threaten the survival of family farms. Pritchard’s personal experiences highlight the determination, resilience, and innovation required to overcome these obstacles and build a sustainable farming business. While also maintaining the important practices that rebuild our relationship with nature and the farmers who work extensively to feed us . Overall , “Gaining Ground” serves as a reminder that by investing in our communities and embracing sustainable farming practices, we can develop the power to make a positive impact on our environment, our health, and our future.

Gaining Ground (#6)- Lola Messick

Chapters 1-6 of Gaining Ground focus on the author, his family, and the farm passed down for generations through his family. Although Forrest began in the traditional route of attending a university, he felt a calling back to his family farm as his full-time job. He witnessed the demise of a farm once kept flourishing by his grandparents due to increased fees and decreased prices of crops. Forrest took over the family farm with the goal to bring it back to its full glory, and his first step of doing so was to start a wood cutting business. This endeavor ended up not being financially profitable enough for what he and the farm need, so he decided to pivot focus after attending a conference that inspired him. The keynote speaker provided Forrest with knowledge about grass-fed beef and raising animals on pasture, and this solidified his choice to go home and transform the farm into Smith Meadows. 

Chapters 6-11 introduced the farms initial struggles with grass fed farming, first with its chickens and then with their beef cattle. Forrest speaks of his first experience of sending one of his steers to the butcher, a thrilling ride with a trailer full of steer that didn’t have working lights, and ultimately an experience with his butcher that broke his trust. These chapters also highlight how Forrest navigated explaining his new farming method to his community and potential customers to portray the positives to this method and dismantle any of the false preconceptions around grass-fed beef. 

The next chapters capture the first farmers market, and the continuance of them. The questions toward Smith Meadows cultivation and selling methods continue by customers and fellow merchants at the market. Travis LaFleur is introduced as a helping hand around the farm that Forrest was able to remines with about Travis’ experience with Forrest’s grandfather.  Most importantly, becoming part of the farmers market community allowed him to see why so many people who grow local food do not sell locally. The profit for local farmers when selling locally makes it unsustainable for farmers to not outsource their crops to the city. Forrest continued to put belief in his idea that he could be successful at local farmers markets but continued to get mediocre financial results. Despite being told continuously that the model of farmers markets does not pay off unless there are costumers coming to buy products, Forrest was optimistic with each passing season that he was gaining knowledge and experience that would bring prosperity to the farm at some point. 

Chapter 19 takes us to the point where Forrest hits the end of his optimism over bringing the farm back to its previous glory through natural grass-fed farming. After two years the farm still wasn’t making enough money, bills weren’t getting paid, and the journey was taking an emotional toll on the family. The opportunity to go to the Arlington famers market provided the farm with a means to generate some much-needed income. Eventually, this increased income allowed the farm to bring in sheep and pig to their livestock, and Forrest’s sister came back to the family business to help. 

Catering to the city farmers markets of Arlington and Takoma Park brought a new set of customers and income for Smith Meadows until 9/11 came and caused a decrease in customer attendance. Around this same time Forrest’s father passed away, and the farm continued to advance at its 5th year since it was revitalized. Within these years grass farming became increasingly popular and led to increased popularity of Smith Meadows products. At a point the farm couldn’t keep up with this increased demand and things began to go out of stock, making it harder than ever to ensure customers got what they needed. 

The city farmers markets grew in popularity with the burst in demand for healthy foods and allowed for the continued success of Smith Meadows. The process of saving his family farm was just that, a process. One that was challenging and anything but linear but extremely rewarding. 

Blog Post #6

“Gaining Ground” is a memoir by Forrest Pritchard about the struggles of his family’s farm and the fight he undertook to save it. The farm, Smith Meadows, has been in his family for several generations, constantly facing financial hardships and battling industrial agriculture. He discusses the many difficulties family farms across the country have been and are still facing. Many traditional farming families struggle to keep up with the pressures of industrial agriculture, such as factory farming, monoculture, and the corporatization of the food industry. These things threaten small, ethical, family farms and the rural communities around them. Pritchard was determined to go against this and turn his family’s farm into a sustainable, organic operation. He wanted to improve not only the health of his animals but also the health of his land and give consumers a way to get locally sourced and ethically produced food. One of the many challenges Pritchard faced was learning to navigate and sell his products at farmer’s markets. Here, he had to learn to connect with the customers around him, market the products he was selling, and find a way to stand out. Another one of his main concerns was finding a way to make his farm sustainable and organic. Throughout the book he talks about the environmental benefits of running a sustainable operation and the ethical responsibility farmers have when it comes to the treatment of their animals. This book also discusses the impact this journey had on Pritchard. From learning skills on how to run his farm to understanding how family farms in rural communities can ensure a stable food system, the author dives into how this journey resulted in not only the growth of his farm, but also himself, with sustainable farming giving him a sense of purpose. This book explores the significance of having support for small, sustainable agriculture and the ever-growing interest from consumers to buying local and ethically sourced food.

Blog Post 6

Pritchard’s “Gaining Ground” contains his personal story about his upbringing around his tight-knit family within their farm. His family story was inspiring by stating how they were “land rich and cash poor,” explaining how the farm was all they had, and even that was a struggle to keep it up. It is interesting how this quote is phrased, because with land, one would think one can benefit from this with creating many resources, but if it is hard to support the land in all the ways you can when you can’t financially support it, which can later lead to issues such as neglect. Throughout the book, Pritchard talks about every aspect that goes into running a farm, such as how he felt about his performance from running the farm, and he experienced a lot of defeat. With that, Pritchard chose to start raising goats in his farm, which required lots of attention and upkeep. During this time, one of the goats had gotten into mouse poison, which that goat died later and was buried. There were many stories told like this that ended in defeat, but Pritchard had always learned a lesson toward the end, and at the ned of this one, he vowed to restrict all harmful chemicals toward his animals, which benefitted the farm and showed people that his farm was producing resources that were fresh and chemical free. With all of this, including the loss of his father, Pritchard turned the farm around as it was extremely successful with some guidance, and he showed people how one can run a farm-not only that, but an organic, healthy farm.

Gaining Ground Blog Post Tim McCarthy

In Gaining Ground, author Forrest Pritchard recounts his childhood farm experience and deals with current issues facing his family’s farm and livelihoods. It begins with a contemplation on how even farmers who had access to fresher food than most Americans, had their own struggles with regulations and consumer processes where its identity of freshness and quality became replaced with shelf life and systematic profit. He explains how throughout his past, many family friends, and neighbors had to either forgo the modern system or succumb to foreclosure and debt from low prices. Forrest continues by explaining the family history of the farm and how even though it wasn’t making money, and many family members and advisors urged him not to pursue a career on the farm, it was a lifestyle he fell in love with. Later, hardships continue as the farm isn’t pulling nearly as much money as expected and Forrest is forced to take other jobs to make ends meet. He attended conferences and evaluated different choices for the farm, like produce and animal selection, and sacrificing crops for another crop to succeed in the face of a drought. By going through this struggle, Forrest learned that the best way to get a start at succeeding is to start starting and the easiest part is doing it because you have a passion for it. Another theme of Gaining Ground is how a farmer’s identity is tied to their produce. While Forrest had qualms about the slaughtering of livestock, he took special care to treat the animals with respect among other ideas like proudly producing Amish-style fresh organic produce. He also disliked the way the big companies would buy farmer’s produce and process for mass sale across the country as he felt their systems undermined the freshness of quality grown produce and cut corners. It is through these values that Forrest brought about the farmer’s market to support local farms as well as provide direct-to-consumer sales that allowed customers to safely buy quality ingredients and farmers to make a living wage and proudly represent their products. Overall, I really enjoyed the book as it covered interesting themes such as self-reliance and the pursuit of livelihood tied to personal interest, but also the evils in the system farmers must live under and how this affects both the farmer and the consumer.

Blog Post 6

In the book Forrest talks about rekindling his family’s farm that had been around for generations. He talked about the benefits of eating food that you know the origin of. He entered the agricultural world when there wasn’t much hope, but he made his dream come true. After the farm failing for a bit of time, he began his “break even enterprise” where he chopped firewood and sold straw bales. Forrest’s determination to produce quality meat and in a clean way kept him motivated. He was set on not using chemicals or any sort of growth hormones that could damage the environment. He learned the hard way by losing a loved goat to rat poison that he needed to be more caution with having those chemicals around. Along with keeping his environment healthy and safe he made sure that his animals were safe and didn’t suffer in any way. Forrest understood that people don’t agree with raising animals just for food, but he had a respect for the animals because they were a way to keep us satisfied so he made them as comfortable as possible. All his animals were grass fed with not corn or processed food. He needed to understand the cause and effect, the benefits and the consequences that the animals had on their environment. Forrest wasn’t like most farmers, he didn’t just care about making money, he cared about his animals, consumers, and environment. When he went to the market to sell to his consumers, he took all of their suggestions and took them into serious consideration, he cared about what they thought. This was unlike his competition of grocery stores that try to make the most profit without considering their consumers wants for grass fed organic meat.