When I learned that Pam Murphy, a Door County artist was raising her own fruits and vegetables as well as her own goats, rabbits, and ducks in an attempt to eat as locally as possible, I was very intrigued – but also, admittedly, a little skeptical. I had gone through my whole life eating food without knowing its whereabouts. I love fresh vegetables and hand-picked Door County strawberries as much as the next person, but still I wondered: How would I feel knowing exactly where everything on my plate came from?
A few weeks ago, I was invited to Pam’s house for dinner, and I have to say – not one dining experience has surprised and thrilled me as much as this one. Virtually everything – from the lavender goat cheese we had as a prelude to the rabbit pot pie and the pound cake with fresh yogurt and honey we enjoyed as a main course and dessert – had been raised no more than 50 feet away from us. I left Pam’s house with a full belly and a completely new outlook on locally grown produce and farm-raised poultry and meat. The food was fresher, needed less preparation, and simply tasted better. Things that I had never enjoyed suddenly held new meaning (Mom, if you’re reading this, I ate an entire beet salad).
2009 was a busy year with many memorable moments – and yet, it was this dinner on a blustery December evening that trumps most everything. Sometimes it’s easy to take your small community for granted, especially when you’ve grown up here and think you’ve seen and heard and done everything that can be done. And then, opportunities come along in which you learn about a person or a group or a cause, and that story simply energizes you.
And if you’re really nice, that person might just invite you over for dinner.