On Friday we paid a visit to the Heifer Project’s Ceres Educational Center near Modesto. Sustainable agriculture techniques were on display; goats, llamas, alpacas, water buffalo, ostriches, chickens, and rabbits generated manure that produced healthy green vegetables. The 7-acre property grew enough grass to keep the animals fed.
We clipped a goat's hooves just before lunch.The facility is a demonstration farm and is most definitely not a petting zoo. The guides described how large animals are rarely eaten, not only because of the expense but because most of the carcass would go to waste due to the lack of refrigeration. Rabbits, chicken, and even guinea pigs can be consumed at one sitting and are a more ideal source of meat.
The Ceres Center offers overnight educational programs oriented toward high schoolers. Participants sleep in a replica of a “global village” home (but have the use of a modern lavatory and shower) and work on the farm. After a day of physical labor, the famished workers are handed some basic cooking utensils, a book of matches, and a few staples such as rice or corn meal and are on their own.
At noon we got a taste, as well as a sense of the rhythm, of a global village meal. It took us about half an hour to get the fire started. Meanwhile, using a plastic plate as a cutting board and a dull metal knife, I peeled and chopped an onion and a potato. Boiling the rice and frying the vegetables, which were topped off by beans, tomatoes, and eggs laid earlier that day, took another 40 minutes. It seemed like one of the best meals I had had in weeks, but it did last two hours from start to finish.
When Americans travel to distant lands, they return with a renewed appreciation of what they have. On Friday appreciation was just two hours away. © 2007 Stephen Yuen