Change

Mirra Fine - Blog

The people you love shouldnt try to change you. They should just take you on a 6 month road trip around the US, have you meet random people from the internet who kill things at a swamp in the middle of the night, have you sit on the back of a golf cart with a man wielding a .22 looking for iguanas, have you sleep in a cave/bomb shelter 12 miles down a canyon in Utah, have you go at least 5 weeks without doing laundry, and have you stay in a different bed each night (one which has bed bugs). That will change you.

It wasnt Daniel’s intention, but thats what happened when he helped to show me the world within our country. We came back a few days ago from the road — weary, worn, and happy. Minneapolis has changed a bit since we left and so have we. Truthfully, I dont think it would have been possible to stay the same.

1. I no longer gag when I see a bug during mealtime. Because Ive now eaten a bug. Specifically, a humongous waterbug with a million legs, protruding eyeballs, tentacles, and wings. It was boiled and then sauteed. And as a vegetarian I wouldnt have touched it. But when our gracious host filleted the large bird-of-an-insect, the smell of pear jollyrancher filled the room. And I knew I had to try. Surprisingly, it tasted just as it smelled: Essences of fruit and saltiness with a touch of, you guessed it, chicken.

2. I no longer eat (as much) junk food. As a former junk food aficionado, this is a major feat. I realized how out of touch I was when I lost at a game of “guess the candy bar” at a baby shower the other day. Imagine my embarrassment. Its a huge change, and one Im pretty proud of. And it came down to this:  After seeing all the good, real food out there — after tasting an apricot fresh from the tree in California, and a real heirloom tomato in Illinois, the massed produced, artificially flavored crap just doesn’t cut it. Dont get me wrong, I would never turn down a box of hot tamales. But I am not as into the other stuff as I used to be. And if we’re going to have full disclosure…candy, and pop has started to make me feel a little sick when I eat it. Apparently, my body was trying to clue me in.

3. I am gravely out of shape. Which Ive kind of always realized, but just didnt have the interest. But after spending 6 months either in a car or hunched over a computer, and then trying to do something athletic (say, go for a hike up a mountain) you really get in touch with your weaknesses. I plan to do something about it.

4. Im realizing that everyone has a story, and they want to tell you about it if youre willing to listen. We’ve met people from all walks of life: refugees, farmers, businessmen, fishermen, big name chefs and unknown home cooks living off the grid. They’ve taken the time to sit with us and tell us about where they came from, what they struggle with, who they really are. I cant describe how lucky I feel for the access we’ve had: Over tea in the morning at the Apostolic family’s home in Ohio, or over steak served on paper plates in front of the TV in Mississippi. I found myself stopping and trying to take in how everything looked and felt: every smell, every decoration on the wall, every sound. I didnt want to forget that moment and how very fortunate I was to be there.

When I got home last week, I already had a package of homemade dried peaches and homemade spicy mustard from our friends in Ohio (who you may remember from Episode 74: God’s Country). And just yesterday, they invited us to their daughter’s wedding in January. We’re trying to figure out a way to make it. I had a postcard from our new friend in San Antonio (who stepped in to take pictures of hunting feral pigs when I couldnt bare it). I had a text message from Squirrel (the catfish noodler in Episode 56: Hand Grabbin) welcoming me back to Minnesota and saying he wishes he could see snow and get to go skiing. They’re my new friends. Before I may have said they were unlikely friends. Maybe because we’ve grown up in completely different worlds. But we’re not so different.

5. Im trying to try things.  Daniel and I spent 21,000 miles sitting within a foot of each other in the car. Surprisingly, we got along pretty well.  In fact, our only point of contention was over my picky (some may instead say “sophisticated”) palate. Daniel insisted that I was an asshole for turning down food instead of trying to appreciate it. I thought he was a jerk for making me feel badly of being a supertaster, and therefore not enjoying all the flavors. We went back and forth for probably 18,000 miles, until one day, he made a good point: There is an incredible variety of flavors in the world, and maybe a part of living life fully is trying to taste each one and be awed by the fact that somehow this flavor came to be. That “fishy” taste that I stay away from — isnt it fascinating that the ocean creates this salty, sensation that you cant find anywhere else. Beets — earthy and unappealing, but try to appreciate that something or someone created that flavor that tastes just like the earth. On this trip, I tried clams, oysters and mussels for the first time. Im trying to eat a little bit of beets everytime they are offered to me. And when I have an aversive reaction to something, I try to instead taste it fully and think about why it’s different, and why it is amazing that such a thing exists.

6. I look at food differently. After meeting the people who cherish the food they have — the farmers who will cut a bruised spot out of an apple and eat the rest. The dumpster diver who uses everything he finds (cans, juices, gifts) because he doesnt want to waste. The immigrant laborers who are breaking their backs and making nothing to bring the majority of our produce to the grocery stores…you appreciate more what you have. And after seeing the disregard for life (whether it be bycatch, or human rights) you start to re-evaluate what’s important, and what you want to support.  The tough thing is no one is perfect. So where do you draw the line?

We’ve seen a lot in the past 6 months. And as my mom commented after reading the article on our tomato industry… “after seeing the truth, you can never not see it again“. You just have to figure out what that truth means to you. That’s what Im trying to do now. I dont want to revert back to when I didnt care, or when I didnt see these truths. I want to remember all of these friends, all of these experiences, and keep learning.

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  • http://twitter.com/Sekkyo Joel Peterson

    Great outpouring of thoughts and soul, Mirra. Can’t wait to see your following journeys together.

    • http://twitter.com/kaleandcola Mirra Fine

      Thanks so much Joel

      • Ed Chiles

        Great stuff Mirra! Congratulations for being able to step out of your comfort zone and take risks. Your life will be forever richer for it. Happy Hollidays to you and Daniel! We cant wait to see what’s next.

  • Marissa Bader

    Really beautiful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=548374504 David Keith Cirka

    Mirra, I am only a very recent follower and spent the most part of two days watching the posted video. You two are amazing and have already accomplished what has burning in my spirit which is to get closer to what IS important in life – God, family, people, healthy REAL sustenance, relationships, local business, camaraderie and the like. Not TV, internet, video games and “stuff.” My eyes were opened years ago as to how factory farming, GMO, processed foods and modern conveniences and abuse of technology have weakened our society. How it has made me fat, unenergetic and relatively complacent. In the most recent years, my family and I have refocused our lives on that list above of what IS important and are so much happier and on track to a healthier life and in turn, better people hoping to influence others to do the same.

    Thank you and Daniel and all those that are in support of your efforts to document what the vast majority of this generation will never see – REAL food in the way it was created to be, not in adulterated, processed forms jam packed full of chemical “flavoring’ and preservatives and conveniently wrapped in shrink wrap requiring only a minute in the microwave for your eating displeasure. I pray we (society) quickly wisen to your message and get back to what IS important in life so future generations will have a happier, healthier and more productive life. If so, it is likely that future schoolkids will be reflecting on the mid 1900s through the turn of the century as the period of self-destruction. If not, we may not have a future or schoolkids. Sad.

    Thank you for your efforts and your reflections. If you ever do another national tour, we will look forward to seeing you in the mountains of Western NC; although, I think you need to press Daniel on taking you on a Mediterranean tour and maybe get more vacation and less documenting :) We are looking forward to more! 

    • http://twitter.com/kaleandcola Mirra Fine

      How incredible and inspiring that you and your family have refocused your lives on what is important.
      So glad you found our site. We were just in Asheville, NC. But next time
      we head that way, we’ll have to meet up. Thank you David.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=548374504 David Keith Cirka

        Absolutely! Need to give us a heads up when you are venturing back! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

  • http://twitter.com/kevinkossowan Kevin Kossowan

    Wow, profound. Good for you for being self-aware enough to be able to articulate it so well.

  • http://twitter.com/opgastronomia OperationGastronomia

    Beautiful post. You’ve gained so much and shared it with so many in the process. 6 months seems like such little time for such a life altering journey!

  • Mel

    always knew you had it in you Mirra, you just need the chance to get out there and explore… I’m so proud of you both!

  • http://twitter.com/carpeseason carpe season

    Rich reflections. #4 is especially ringing true. I think that is why so many people are drawn to theperennialplate… You are great storytellers. Keep up the good work. (but have a little MN rest time first :)

    • http://twitter.com/kaleandcola Mirra Fine

      Thanks for this note. It was very humbling how much people would tell us when the camera was put away. And eye opening to hear how people from all walks of life got to where they are now. I feel very lucky to gain that access into their worlds. 

  • Kdipangrazio

    I really enjoyed reading this Mirra!  Looking forward to more commentary on your explorations.  Thanks for sharing.

  • Elise

    That was excellent! I truly enjoyed reading about the epiphanies you had during this extremely cool journey! Welcome back to MN!

  • Juanita

    Mira, you are so fortunate to have learned so much so quickly and at an early age.  My belief is that it is important to be adventurous, to challenge yourself to learn and do new things, and to gain wisdom along the way.  You will be rewarded and enriched by experiences, beyond your expectations. 
    I have enjoyed Daniel’s and your tour and will continue to follow you around the country.

    • http://twitter.com/kaleandcola Mirra Fine

      Thanks Juanita. A lot of those lessons I wish I had learned earlier. Now I get the importance of being adventurous. But its something I didnt always see. 

  • Scott O.

    Amazing post, Mirra. I’m happy you had such an awesome experience and are able to internalize everything and make sense of it all. I think a lot of people would be too overwhelmed by all of those experiences to be able to distill them down as you’ve done. You’re definitely a better person for what you’ve done over the past 6 months.  

    • http://twitter.com/kaleandcola Mirra Fine

      Thanks Scott. Im still feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all… but trying to hold on to all those experiences. 

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  • MWJ

    Mirra, I thoroughly enjoy the videos, but your messages are what touch me the most. thank you for your honesty, insight and daring. When you and Daniel are ready to spear northern again and make caviar out of their roe, give me a call. Mark J (Grand Rapids MN)

    • Mirra

      Wow. Thanks Mark.