Upon reflecting on what’s going on in the economy – and let’s face it, it doesn’t sound good, look good or feel good – so I thought there has to be another way of looking at the mess.
We are in a unique period in our economic history. There are rumblings by OPEC, China and the EU that the US dollar may no longer be the currency of choice. We are also told that our inflation rate is 2-3% a year. But do you really believe that stat?? I don’t. Everything around me is going up in price – gas, imported clothing, imported fabrics and wall coverings, food, wine, electricity, health insurance. When $40,000 buys you a year’s worth of college tuition or a middle-of-the-road car, I’d say we have mega-inflation.
So where am I going with this line of reasoning….tangible assets…..the perfect inflation hedge. And most of them are going up, up, up….Gold is at a 30 year high, fine art is appreciating by leaps and bounds, oil – well you know the story there. And, then there is real estate. As a student of finance, I was taught that real estate was viewed as an inflation hedge. It might not feel that way today as we live through the sub-prime mess, but wait, if inflation continues to creep, real estate will play its traditional role in the financial markets – not a buy it and flip it asset, but a tangible, limited resource that is a long-term storehouse of value. I say think location, location, location for long-term real estate plays!
“You are what you eat.” Food – a basic necessity – readily available in vast quantities and choices in the US – is one of my passions. I love to cook. I love to entertain. I also want my family and loved ones to be healthy. Read the Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen or Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingslover and get a window into industrialized food and the importance of food provenance.
In the Berkshires, I didn’t have to go far to find a solution to eating and buying local. This year we joined 2 CSA’s – one for grass fed meat, Moon in the Pond Farm and the other for vegetables, Farm Girl Farm. owned by Laura Meister. Essentially at the beginning of the growing season, farmers need working capital to get their farms ready to produce. Memberships are available to select farms whereby you pay a fee in the spring that “buys” you a share of the farm and each week from early June through mid-November, you go to the farm on your day (for us it was every Saturday from 10 -12) and pick up your share.
And what a great experience…we never knew what we were going to get!! Alas, I was beckoned to a time when people didn’t plan their menus before they shopped – they became inspired by the available ingredients to create their menu’s after they shopped. And what fun I have been having – what to do with sweet white turnips – do I have a gratin for you!! And rainbow Swiss chard – gorgeous and packed with anti-oxidants. But my favorite to use and look at were the garlic scapes – the long, curly, flowery stem of the garlic plant – packing all the garlic flavor well before the harvest BUT also providing the most beautiful and sculptural floral arrangement on my early summer table – guest were agaw and intrigued.
Sadly, the season came to a close last Saturday and I found myself missing my Saturday ritual yesterday and missing the food grown in soil I can see, by a farmer I can name. I’ve preserved some of the harvest and am dreading having to shop in the grocery store for many of the items I picked up at the farm all summer. The silver lining is the meat CSA is year-long and I am waiting with great anticipation to savor the heritage breed bourbon red turkey that I got from Moon in the Pond for Thanksgiving.
So thank you Berkshires for maintaining and preserving some of your agricultural lands, thank you to the farmers who toil in the fields and believe in producing locally grown food. Thank you Berkshire Grown for creating a venue to support and find these farmers and thank you Slow Food for taking on the mission to preserve food growing and eating traditions.