I love food. If I’m not eating food, cooking food, or buying food, I’m thinking about food. I like to really experience food with as many of my senses as possible. People don’t do that enough these days. They don’t think that much about nourishing their bodies and what they put into themselves. They’re so disconnected from where their food comes from. How rare it is that people actually work for their food and do physical labor to get it… at least here in America.
All during my childhood I remember my family having a garden, and sometimes I had to pull weeds. I hated having to do that, and I never thought much about the fresh vegetables we had, or the preserving my mom did at the end of the harvest. Now that I’m on my own, and have developed a deep appreciation of food, I’m finding ways to experienceÂ it from start to finish, and get my hands dirty again. It’s surprisingly satisfying to plant things, watch them grow, and enjoy the fruits… err… vegetables of your labor.
What Is Crop Mobbing?
There’s a new phenomenon spreading across the country. I belong to a rogue group of mobbers. We’re crop mobbers. We organize and descend on a farm, a willing and needing farm, to labor for them in exchange for a hot, fresh, home-cooked meal. Sometimes we even get fruits or veggies to take home with us. People think it’s a little odd. “What, you go work on a farm? For fun?” Yup, I really do have fun, but it’s so much more than going out, hanging with a bunch of earth children, and having some laughs.
Crop mobbing is a real hands-on way to get connected with your food, learning about various crops and how to care for them, as well as some of the in’s and out’s of running a small farm.Â Some of us don’t have land that is ours to till, so we live somewhat vicariously through these established growers. We may not be planting crops that we will eventually enjoy, but then again, we may be. What a feeling it is to mob a farm, then later in the season meet up with the farmers at the local farmers market to see the fine eats you helped produce! You have that voice that smiles inside, the one that says “Yup, I helped make that.”
I don’t think most people know what food goes through before they buy it. They don’t know the science it takes to plant and grow these foods successfully, or the number of hours farmers put into it. For me crop mobbing satisfies a certain curiosity on the subject. “Oh, so that’s how they do that!” Now when I go to buy vegetables it’s like a veil has been pulled back and I can read theÂ secret history of the food I’m buying. Yes, I know where that carrot has probably been.
Benefits to being a crop mobber?
Beyond that though, there are some other really fantastic physical benefits to being a crop mobber. I tell you what, the day after a mob, I am sore. I mean the feeling I’ve been run over by a herd of cattle, then hit by a truck,Â kind of sore. It’s amazing the muscles you work when you’re doing manual labor. Even if you have a laborious job (which I sort of do,)Â it doesn’t even compare toÂ pulling weeds, planting garlic, carrying hefty buckets and rocks, raking, shovelling, or harvesting carrots. I swear you work muscles you didn’t even know you had! Crop mobbing isÂ honestly the best workout I get every month. The movements are so natural and random. It totally freaks your body out, but in a really great way.Â A rest day the following day is almost always required.
At my last mob, and the final mob for the season, we gleaned carrots. The conversation turned towards the usual topics, including male and female roles and how you see more women crop mobbing. Perhaps it taps into our more natural “gatherer” instinct rather than the male “hunter” instinct. Stooping and bending there in those rows, I found a very good, practical use for what’s known as the “Grok Squat.” It was a very natural position for the chores we were doing. Squat, stand, bend, lift, pull. We were all utilizing muscles and doing movements that our ancestors did regularly. The next day I was hurting. It’s fantastic actually feeling yourself get stronger and fitter, and it didn’t require a gym membership, a treadmill, expensive weights or a trainer. It does require, however, that you get a little dirty.
For me, when I’m there on my knees, mud caked on my hands and dirt clumped under my nails, I have a sudden great appreciation for what’s on my dinner plate. Especially when it’s made with care by thankful farmers.
And let me tell you about the meals! OK, I could improve on the meals, but that’s only because I’m an omnivore and the meals (at least with our crop mob group) are always vegetarian and vegan. That leaves a little for a meat-eater like me to desire. However, there is some darn good vegetarian food happening at these farms! I didn’t realize vegetarian food could actually taste good. The mob organizer and the farmers are always kind enough to prepare a meal that, although meat-free, is also grain-free for my dietary restrictions. Many of these dishes would make fine side dishes for most Primal eaters for sure.
Supporting local business
The best part though, is being able to be a pair of helping hands for our local farms. I very much believe in eating locally, supporting local businesses, and being an active, supportive part of my community. That’s what crop mobbers are about. We work side by side to do the work it takes a community to do. Sometimes it takes a little extra help for these small farms to not just survive, but thrive, so we step up and help them out. In return you make connections, and friends, expand your food network,Â and build your community. And best of all, it makes you a better, healthierÂ person- emotionally, relationally, physically, and for some of us, even spiritually.
If you would like more information about crop mobbing, and find mobs in your area, go to Crop Mob.
And if your crop mob is meat-free like mine is, you may want to make some cheap and simple jerky to take with you. I love ground beef jerky- both because it’s cheap, and because it tastes good. It’s also just a little bit easier to chew, which unfortunately means I snarf it down pretty quickly.