Is Terroir a new word for you? It was for me not long ago. We, typically, hear this word in reference to wine and cheese. The wine takes on a flavor that is based on the dirt the grapes are grown in, how the vines are tended, as well as the unique process a given winemaker uses to create the wine. The cheese reflects the flavor of the milk – which is affected by the plants the animal eats – along with the unique process of the cheesemaker.
Have you ever bitten into a sun-warmed tomato from a garden and compared it to the hothouse tomato from the grocery store? What a difference, right? You’re experiencing the Terroir of the place where the plant that produced the tomato lived. That home-grown tomato is a reflection of the earth, water, and sun that grew it.
Our eggs are the result of the quality of the hen’s life and what food she eats – from the balanced, organic feed to the bugs, soil and worms she finds in our backyard during supervised outings.
My mother described Terroir when she told me that she didn’t like venison from California because it tasted too much like sage to her. Indiana deer did not have sage to graze on. And, when she talked about the special, unmatchable flavor of the Morel mushrooms and wild spring asparagus she gathered. Her food sources grew on her family farm as well as the secret locations in the woods and along the railroad tracks that Mother Nature tended with loving hands.
Each time I put my fingers in our dirt, I think about whether or not what I’m doing is helping the soil be better. I know that rainwater makes my plants happier that any other water source. How does the quality of the air where I live affect how the plants “breathe”? I am careful about the use of pesticides and herbicides – helping my neighbor’s to do the same. My goal is to work with the earth to balance our little slice of the globe’s ecosystem?
” To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.”
~ Mohandas K Gandhi