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"If a Cutting Board Could Talk" by Beth Weick, as published in North Country News, December 2009

A couple days ago, we chopped 30 pounds of potatoes. It's not that uncommon, really, as they are our staple root crop and a significant component to any meal or food event held here at D Acres Organic Farm & Educational Homestead. Our monthly Farm Feast Breakfast is an easy example. Everyone wants home-fries, and we spend the day before chopping enough potatoes to ensure that no one leaves the farm wanting more. There are Peruvian Purples, Fingerlings, Kennebecs, Russets, and Yukon Golds. The story of each 'tater is one of many hands. From the soil and garden bed prep, to planting and hilling, to harvesting, sorting, and storing, dozens of D Acres staff members, residents, interns, apprentices, volunteers, and friends have contributed to our thousand-pound-plus potato treasure.

It has an idyllic ring to it, despite being true. Still, we were chopping all the small, partially-green, pitchforked-stabbed, broken, bruised, nibbled, and/or rotting tubers that were unfit for winter storage. No amount of picturesque-ness could diminish the rather onerous nature of the job.

But consider the situation from another perspective – that of the cutting board. It's just potatoes, yes…but think what stories one of our well-worn boards could tell! My mind jumps to dull knives, or tomato innards soaking into the wooden boards, or onion vapors causing perpetual tears…

Bear with me though: what would a cutting board say about the type of food that rests on it? what would it reveal? what would it prefer? Crazy, I know. But hear me out. Our boards tell stories of our own produce. Dirty (of course) but no chemicals, no waxes, no gases used to ripen vegetables, nor genetic modifications in the name of size, color, or seedless-ness. D Acres vegetables rarely look perfect, but flavor and nutrition are never compromised. And our cutting boards live the reality of seasonality. There'll be no asparagus until April, no tomatoes until August; peaches are merely for September, and even fresh kale takes a hiatus come December. Perhaps by March our cutting boards are as weary of squash and as hungry for greens as we are.

What would your cutting board say?

With a mild leap of faith, it strikes me as a reasonable question. And as 2009 is drawing to a close, the New Year beckons with the potential for new resolutions, new beginnings, new patterns.

So why not make your resolutions about food? We eat every day, food is essential for survival, and meals shape our time, our interactions, our budgets, and our health. Food that is in season, that is homegrown or local, and that is grown naturally makes for a healthier diet – for people, for the land, for the robustness of local community, and for the diversity and strength of small-scale agriculture. For 2010, get to know local farmers (check out the Local Food Guide via the D Acres website, www.dacres.org), start some seeds indoors, familiarize yourself with what foods grow where, when. Consider the story of each meal, contemplate where it came from, and what the consequences – good and bad, immediate and long-term – could be.

We'll even help you get started: join us for a potluck-open-mic-New Year's Eve celebration here at the farm on Dec 31st at 6pm.

If cutting boards could talk, indeed.

Beth Weick is a resident of D Acres Organic Farm & Educational Homestead, a non-profit service organization. She first came to the farm in April 2008 as an intern, and now focuses her work on gardening, tending to the animals, and writing. Learn more about the programs at D Acres by visiting www.dacres.org.

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