The soil is rusty and the air always smells faintly of manure. Though manure from what species is anyone’s guess. And it smells like marshmallows. Maybe just to me. There are no marshmallows here, but when I smell charcoal burning, my brain says ‘campfires!’ and doesn’t know any better.
I know exactly where my water comes from, I’ve seen most of the food on my plate growing out of the ground, I know where my waste goes–all forms of it — and where the chicken’s waste goes. (That’s a good thing to pay close attention to.) And I know better than ever what a chickens’ unlaid eggs look like inside a hen’s body. Somehow the lemon pepper rotisserie chickens my mom is fond of from Wegman’s never had a jumble of yellow yolks of various sizes clinging inside them.
One minute I’m thinking I will never eat anything that has ever pooped. While I think I can philosophically handle killing an animal and cleaning up its blood, removing feces from something I plan on eating is a different thing. But the next minute I am pondering where my protein will come from in the village, following a life cycle web that starts with wanting an omelette and ends with– well where am I going to put this chicken liver now, if not in my mouth? And if I’m ever going to eat meat, honestly, these conditions are the best I could ask for.
Also, sidebar — does anyone have any idea where in the world all the feathers from an industrial chicken operation go?
Later in the day, our technical trainer reminds us in the garden that if you don’t have compost ready, you can just build the soil with manure, and save some ashes from your cooking stoves to add in too. He says “It is a waste to actually waste waste.” Farmers might want to use chemical fertilizers (which, just for the record roughly translates to ‘white people manure’ in Tonga), he says. But you will tell them ‘Wait!’ His hand lifted for dramatic emphasis ‘We can use poop!’ Don’t forget to taylor your diction to the audience.
That morning my language instructor told us in language class that you must never let someone see you throw away food. IF you think you might have too much food, give some to your neighbors before it goes bad. What a great idea. I tried to briefly explain how much food is wasted in the U.S.A., thinking back to all the refrigerators I’ve cleaned out in my lifetime.
Food waste in the US is a big messy issue — I want to add some references on this topic. But it ties into all kinds of issues–trends in the relative price of food over time, structure of our built environment and our time frames– how often can people shop?
But also feeling conflicted about telling people to be careful with their farming resources while coming from a place in many ways has not done so, and has polluted and consumed so much… In other news, there are one-day-old kittens in the shed.