The Cow That Jumped Over the Full Moon

Written in September 2006

This entry is inspired by “Full Moon Feast” by Jessica Prentice.This book is everything — food, nutrition, recipes, anthropology, geography…it is spiritual and political — I could just eat it. I have never read a book quite like this one…

Jessica draws on the lunar traditions of quite a few cultures… She compares and contrasts the cultural names of each full moon and divides her book into chapters with a full moon theme that ecompasses the trends across the cultures. The pages are dripping with nutritional insights that our elders would have once told us…if we wouldn’t have put them all in nursing homes

She has revamped my perspective of dairy products (basing a lot of her assertions on a book written by a dentist who had traveled to quite a few areas to cover food relationships and its relationship to dental health and to ones life span)…illuminated me of the fact that purchasing socially responsible products is not such a new idea…and, has explained how to eat salsify…

Some questions have come up for me… What will it take for people to reconnect with their food? Why is food and a meal viewed through a cost-benefit lens? How does this affect our world? Will more people want to farm one day?

With this last question I pose I am reminded of a conversation I had with my mother. Her grandfather was a small-scale cotton farmer. He was a father of about 12 children — his labor force… This man was half Cherokee and half Scottish. Cotton was a cash crop and they made enough money to live well out in the country; he also farmed sweet potatoes, peanuts, and some other things. I asked my mother why none of the children had continued the farming business… She said that as time went on…farmers were regarded as poor and culturally inferior to other professions.

Even though the farm steadily quieted down over the years as each of the children left…my mother still has the most vivid and rich memories of the place… One story she told me was about how the women would make biscuits in the house while the men were out working… She was young, about 6, when she lived with her grandfather… She remembers skirts whirling around the kitchen…the smell of hot biscuits…trays and trays of fresh biscuits letting off their buttery steam…the sound of water being pumped right outside the kitchen door…

Her memories are so rich…even though the women and men had traditional roles…there is simple beauty to the rhythm they created around food and sustenance. There is much to learn from the creativity of homesteaders…and most certainly the Native Americans. And, there are many memories that, I hope, will continue to surface in our collective conscious about what once common knowledge — how to feed, clothe, and shelter ourselves…


So, continuing the thread of Jessica Prentice’s amazing book “Full Moon Feast”… Many questions are coming up for me around health and diet… Her book is really blowing me away and challenging the status quo… That status quo being a vegetarian diet is the way to go to be socially, ecologically, and spiritually sound in your diet.

Jessica approaches these qualities of a diet by reflecting on pastoral, agricultural, and hunter-gartherer cultures… She analyzes their eating habits…their staple foods…how they survived during winters…how they canned…prepared…and stewarded their natural environment (plants, animals, etc.)…

She dedicates chapters and chapters to honey bees, maple syrup, dairy products from llamas, cows, goats, yaks, and sheep, lacto-fermented products, herbal beers and ales, and…yes, meat…and not the lean, marbled kind you find in neat packages in the store…she’s talking about the fatty, meatiness with yellow tinted fat…animal fat from cows, chickens, and pigs, for example…

Her argument is totally contradictory to the modern message that eating animals is nothing short of sinful. She explains that because of our heavily industrialized economy within the past century…people have reacted in a fundamentalist way — negating all animal products (some religious practices even abstain from all honey bee products). Rightfully so… However, we are missing out on a great connection with our greater nature…birth…death…decomposing…life…all of this is a beautiful cycle which has become quite ugly in our modern standards.

Jessica also speaks of relationships with farmers…helping them retain their workers year-round…not just in the summer growing season…she educates us about winter vegetables so that we will purchase them when they are in season (root veggies, leeks, etc.). She speaks about knowing your cow, sheep, goat, and chicken farmers…talking to them…being educated by them and educating them about food and nutrition…

In response to this book, being one who pivots quickly after being convinced well enough šŸ˜‰ I walk to my local co-op and I buy raw goat cheese and raw, unpastuerized cow milk (Jersey cow!)… I simmer roasted barley in water with mint, red clover and honey… When it is ready, I pour it into my glass with a quarter cup of raw milk…divine! I am going to work in raw milk and some responsibly raised meat into my diet piecemeal and see how my body responds… In tandem, I will come up with a prayer or mantra to chant to the animals and plants when I eat them… I am nearing the end of the book and will probably have to go through it again…so enriching…

Happy eating! And check out Deconstructing Dinners for more juicy information around food!


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