City Mouse, Country Mouse

31 05 2008

(post by Ben)

There are countless versions of the fable: it’s either a cat-dog-mousetrap-maid that scares the mice cousins out of the pantry-cupboard-cellar-restaurant… but the moral is generally the same (this one being my favorite): “Better beans and bacon in peace than cakes and ale in fear.”

In case you forgot the story, a city mouse goes to visit his cousin in the country and helps him work on his farm. The city mouse is a little lazy, and complains a lot about the food and the work and how there’s not a lot of “people” around… then the country mouse goes to visit the city mouse and is amazed at how plentiful the food is, the “people” (human and rodent) only to be scared back to the country by the dog-cat-trap-maid which leads him to his moral.

Why is the country mouse judging so harshly his own food culture (what’s wrong with beans and bacon?) and saying that city food culture (where’d they get the ingredients for their cakes and ale anyway?) is almost worth dying for?


The inspiration for growing our own Mud Puddle Produce happened in Chicago, a city famous for cakes and ale (okay — famous for hot dogs, baseball, “Chicago-style” pizza, beer… and the “Best Restaurant” in the country, Alinea) and also “famous” for fear (okay, a lot of cities are… but Chicago has the most infamous gangters and gangstas; the first serial killer; and the most recent elevated train derailment).

Almost one year ago (20 June 2007, I saved the email), Gabrielle, Chad, Jason, and me were sitting outside eating some fancy food with some surprisingly un-fancy ingredients: grilled monk-fish (“poor man’s lobster”) with a tasty corn and pork-rind relish. It’s too perfect as a background to such an ostentatious first year of farming. I had just gotten back from a month couchsurfing in France and Ireland, Chad and Gabe were about to go to France and Italy for a month themselves; I became obsessed with French Breakfast Radishes (our first harvest!). Gabe’s old apartment overlooked a police station and also overlooked the WORST intersection in Chicago (while cat-sitting I saw/heard five accidents over one weekend). Here we were just wanting to grow stuff to eat and get out of the city.

And here we are doing it.

Take a group of city friends with unlimited culinary and business skills and throw them at the most beautiful county in Oregon and let them grow as great a variety of fruits and vegetables that the deer, the heat-waves, and the notorious Pea Leaf Weevil will allow, and see what happens. For the good of the earth and all of those on it, for our own sanity… and to make new friends and get acquainted with the ones we haven’t seen in awhile.

What I’m gettin’ at is this country x city mouse is gettin’ home while the gettin’ is good

(Also, it’s almost time for your first CSA box! You better get ready!!!)