Today is Tisha B'av (Literally the 9th of the month of Av), a day of fasting, mourning and reflection for the Jewish people. Being Jewish, our family is also fasting this day. Like a few other occupations though, like those who are in medicine, there are truly no days off for a farmer. Even days like Shabbat, when the Jewish people are to rest from ALL work, a day full of restrictions, there are still many things that absolutely must be done on the farm. Things like feeding and watering the animals never takes a day off. So, therefore, even on a day like Tisha B'Av, when we are fasting from any food or water for more than 24 hours, we do not have the luxury to at least take the day off and rest. Further more, there are deadlines that need to be made. Plants need to be watered, product needs to be harvested, and food needs to be delivered. So what did I do this morning while fasting? As soon as I was done praying, I worked in the field. I harvested the shares for tomorrow, I irrigated the vegetables, watered and fed the animals. Was I tired? A little bit. Hungry? A little bit. Reflective? Even more so...
I thought about the meaning of Tisha B'Av: The remembrance and mourning of the destruction of the Holy Temples (both the first and the second temple were destroyed, as it were, on the same calendar day), the crushing defeat of the Jews in 132 C.E. during the Bar Kochba revolt, the first crusade against the Jews in 1095, the expelling of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and the declaration of WW1 all occurred on Tisha B'Av along with a host of other destructive events. In short, Tisha B'Av is a sad day. For me as a farmer, I have an opportunity on this day, however.
As I am fasting and mourning and reflecting on the atrocities that have occurred to the Jewish people, to our people, over the centuries and I am feeling weak and hungry while working in the field, I could feel sorry for myself. But I don't. I realize instead what a privilege it is to live as free as I do and to be able to feed people with such pure and whole foods that bring healing to their bodies and to our land. While working I think of how grateful I am to be able to practice my faith openly and without apology in such a free country and during such a time as this. Sure there is anti-semitism, and I am not immune from it believe me, but comparatively, we are living in a time of immense peace and prosperity. Yet, there are so many around the world who are not.
I think of those in parts of China, India and parts of Africa that are suffering from malnutrition and hunger. I think mostly, however, of those even here in America, the most prosperous nation the world has ever seen, that are suffering from unseen starvation. Today there are 50 million Americans who are literally starving to death (Watch "A Place at the Table). These American's who can barely afford to purchase food are not all aching for food, some are, but they are starving (Read Stuffed and Starved). Stuffing themselves on foods laden with refined carbohydrates like high fructose corn syrup, added refined sugars, stripped of all nutrients like white bread and white rice, these people are literally starving of nutritional deficiency to death. Some of them don't even realize that they are starving, as they make the choices to eat this way while suffering ailments that doctors tell them are "hereditary," while giving them a prescription for statins to lower their cholesterol. Others, however, wish they could eat healthier. They long for pure, clean, fresh food, but cannot afford it, or it's simply not accessible to them (See Food Desert).
This is where we come in. Colorado Springs and El Paso county as well as other areas in southern and eastern Colorado are some of the areas that many people are suffering. Only 1-2% of the food in El Paso county is considered local and a huge percentage of the area including much of the rest of Colorado outside of Denver and a few exceptions are considered to have low availability to fresh food (see USDA Map Here). Even if they do have access to fresh food the question then is first, can they afford it, and second, is it really pure, healthy food that is going to bring healing, or is it conventional food that will further damage their bodies because it is laden with chemicals and modified organisms that are not recognizable or digestible by the human body (see a great video about this HERE)? The reality is, however, that even with an additional 100,000 acres of pure food, it still wouldn't meet the local demand. But we can make a small difference. Our little farm is responsible for feeding about 30 families per week pure food. We bring healing to a small amount of additional people with those that purchase our food from the farmers market as well. It's not much, but it's a start. We have been told by so many, how the food makes them feel, how much they enjoy it and even more so, how thankful they are that we are here to provide it for them. What a blessing!
With so many people that are starving each and every day, I choose to be hungry for one day with them. I am hungry and I am tired and I am sad because of Tisha B'Av, but I am also thankful. I am thankful that my family is so healthy. I am thankful that my family is safe and does not have to worry about being expelled, murdered, or persecuted to such an extent as those who have gone before us have been. I am also thankful for the opportunity to provide food and bring healing to people who otherwise do not have access to it.
Fasting brings a reflection that encourages appreciation for the things that we have. To go without food for one day is no problem, even if I am working hard for much of that day. For, there are almost a billion people around the world right now who do not have food (see HERE). I am making a choice not to eat. They don't have one. How dare I complain, whine, snivel or pout about not eating for one day, for running after children or working hard in the field? I can't. I must, therefore be grateful for the opportunities that I have. For the opportunity to have a choice not to eat for a day, for the opportunity to provide health and financial well-being for my family and for the opportunity to bring health to others through the food that I grow.