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Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian: Chapter 1

The Breakfast of Agrarians

There are all kinds of good foods that agrarians can eat for
breakfast.

Eggs come to mind right away. I’m not referring to those perfectly uniform, perfectly clean, perfectly prosaic eggs found en masse at the supermarket, the ones with pale, flat, yolks and watery whites, laid by chickens which have never seen the light of day, let alone scratched in the dirt and eaten an insect, or swallowed a genuine stone for their gizzard, but real eggs, laid by down-to-earth country hens, eggs that come out of the nest in a variety of sizes, with a variety of imperfections, and sometimes a smear of wet soil (from a muddy hen’s foot) or, horror of horrors, a spot of manure. Fresh from the nest are best.

Bacon is good too, as is sausage. Homemade bread, toasted, with some real butter and, perhaps, some fruit preserves are also fine agrarian breakfast foods.

My grandfather Philbrick, a potato farmer in northern Maine, would often go just up the road, in the dawn of the day, to catch his morning’s meal in the stream. He loved pan-fried brook trout for breakfast.

Yes, there are plenty of hale and hearty breakfast foods from which agrarians may choose. But there are also lots of breakfast foods that Agrarians will not eat, such as the vast majority of breakfast foods found in a modern supermarket. Froot Loops and Lucky Charms come to mind, as do Pop Tarts, pseudo-juice drinks, white “Wonder” bread, and nondairy dairy products.

I understand you can even buy egg substitutes now: eggs without the shells and, for that matter, eggs without the egg. It is remarkable, really, the myriad ways the industrial providers can morph natural food into something unnatural or—worse yet—a synthesized copy.

This fare of the industrial providers is food foolishness. These people, these companies, these forces, exalt themselves and their fake products, boldly proclaiming that their creations are better than the unadulterated bounty created and provided by the Sovereign God of all creation. What gall.

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I had a perfect agrarian breakfast a few days ago. It was the exact breakfast that prompted me to write this story.

The first thing you need to know about this particular breakfast (for it is no small matter) is that it was made for me by my wife of 25 years, The Lovely Marlene.

Picture in your mind a bowl of oatmeal—that is where we will begin. No, not that cook-it-in-the-microwave-in-3.7-seconds oatmeal, the stuff that comes in little prepackaged envelopes, complete with processed white sugar (or brown, which is white
with something else added to make it brown), artificial flavors, and special chemicals to preserve freshness.

I’m speaking of oatmeal that consists of nothing more than rolled oats; the flattened flakes that result when oat kernels are run through steel rollers, the kind of oatmeal that requires a couple pinches of salt and several minutes of cooking on the stovetop.

This bowl of oatmeal I ate the other day was cooked to “Baby Bear” perfection: not too hot, not too cold, not soupy, not lumpy—it was just right.

To sweeten this heavenly bowl of cooked grain, Marlene poured on some maple syrup. Aunt Jemima’s is my favorite! Okay, so I’m being sarcastic. The maple syrup on my oatmeal was not factory-made, caramel-colored sugar syrup, it was one hundred
percent boiled-down sugar maple tree sap. I know this because my family and I tapped the trees, gathered the sap, and cooked it down over a wood fire in our back yard. No sweetener on earth can compare to the amber nectar that is real maple syrup.

Marlene then poured just a little cream over the oatmeal. The cream came from Esther Thornton’s cow. I think it is a Guernsey. Twice a week, we get fresh milk from Esther’s cow. The thick, rich cream rises to the top of the container and we skim it off. Cream just doesn’t get much better than that.

Next, my dear wife added a small handful of walnuts. These were store-bought halves, but I’m quite certain they were the real thing. It’s hard to mess up walnuts. But just give ‘em time; I’m sure there are scientists all over the world working to create an artificial substitute for tree-grown nutmeat, cracked out of its hard shell. Whoever achieves this noble goal will be fêted as a hero by the industrial providers. Maybe he or she will win a big prize. Most importantly, though, they will get rich! Whatever.

There was one more element to my breakfast. It was, as the French say, the pièce de résistance: fresh strawberries.

Only moments before, Marlene had carefully selected a couple dozen plump, dew speckled, sun-ripened, melt-in-your-mouth-sweet berries. They came right from our
garden. These deep crimson beauties were rinsed, hulled, sliced in half, and piled on a small plate beside my bowl of oatmeal. They were there for me to eat in whatever way pleased me; I could have them in my oatmeal (which I did), or I could eat them individually (which I also did).

I did not eat this meal right away. I sat and marveled at it. I felt as if I were a great agrarian king . . . king over the 1.5 acre dominion that God has granted to me. I gave Him thanks for the simple, yet wholly indescribable, beauty of the bounty that I was about to receive.

Amen