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Down With Comfort, Up With Pleasure

In the years since our hand-harvested food challenge, I notice that I don't have to work as hard to feed myself. I also don't enjoy feeding myself as much as I did when the garden was the only grocery store. I remember my grateful tears at the first strawberry of the season, ambrosia after a winter of shriveled apples and dried pears. There is something about the right degree of hunger that amplifies my pleasure at life.

I don't demean the painful, calorie- and nutrient-short hunger that many feel. I weep with sadness and frustration thinking of people in the world who go hungry. My life's work here at Hawthorn Farm is to make that sort of hunger obsolete. One of my mottos is, "Good food within walking distance for EVERYONE."

This means that I can definitely deal with eating all the kohlrabi in the pantry before I go buy a cinnamon roll. By any measure, I would argue that the environmental and social toll of the pastry is greater than the costs of the bulbous vegetable sitting in its basket. So I eat the kohlrabi. It's not as luscious as a sugary dumpling, but it is, in its own way, helping me create a more beautiful world. And God help me, when I sink my teeth into a once-in-a-blue-moon cinnamon roll, I am going to enjoy every last crumb. I'm not advocating martyrdom. I'm advocating a deep and lasting pleasure, a pleasure that gives the future a world full of strawberries in season, and kohlrabi to help us enjoy the berries all the more. I'm not going to jump on any kind of smug soapbox about the health benefits of leaning towards kohlrabi versus pastry, but you can fill in your own preferred blanks on that matter.

Here's my plan for a hybrid food challenge in 2020: I'll steer away from buying any sweets. I know myself. If there are sweets available in the house, I eat them. If I have to tote maple sap and boil it down to get my sugar, I am going to be a much better steward of my sugar intake. The current and past history of sugar farming is a painful, and it's an industry I'm not keen to support. I'll tap the maples in the neighborhood instead.

Where in your life are pleasure and integrity intertwined? And where are they very far away from each other? You wouldn't have pleasure's intricate neurology if it were not intended to be a guide. Fortunately, the world shepherds us towards a deep and lasting satisfaction in tending the relationships around us. Which means that Daniel and I will dust off the maple tapping equipment and get ready to celebrate the rising sap.

This is not me offering a New Year's toast to the tree. It's a bottle full of sap that has dripped from the white tube inserted into the bark. Really! I can't make this stuff up.

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