Ag Lit Bit
After a 30-year hiatus, I returned to Germany and Austria with my husband to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We had visited this region on our honeymoon and felt it would be the perfect way to kick-off the next 30 years. It didn’t disappoint! I must say that on our trip many years ago I didn’t have the same curiosity about farming as my focus then was more on food (not where it came from, but how delicious it tasted), scenery and local traditions.
Our typical vacations are not meticulously planned as we design our days to explore via car to stop where we see interesting sights and then find that perfect spot to seek a room for the night. This can be challenging when you don’t speak the local language but has always worked out for us due to the kindness of strangers and the welcoming spirit of locals.
Our first glimpse of the German countryside resulted in several road stops to take pictures of the breathtaking yellow fields of something. With no Wi-Fi (which was a strange feeling) we guessed and guessed what in the world this crop was and couldn’t stop pulling over to take more pictures as the contrasting yellow and lush green fields were amazing.
Shortly after that, we were on the road with cows right next to us followed by endless other ‘agriculture’ moments. We were fortunate to be there during spargel (white asparagus) season. Unlike our green asparagus, this grows underground and was in stores, farm stands and even boxes along the road where you could take a box and leave your money behind. I finally had it one night cooked in a light stock with melted butter, a few potatoes and a couple of slices of thin ham.
Our 10 days included seeing many small farms with much diversity. I had so many questions and wished I could pull over to talk with the farmers, however, my mastery of the language didn’t go much beyond danke, guten morgen, zimmer and toilette (that would be another whole column). I did try to converse with a local butcher who had a jar up on the counter above the beef in one case (see photo). I came to understand that this was used to show the consumer what the animal’s diet was for the meat sold below. We tried to talk more, but language got in the way.
While I could fill this Co-Operator with more, it suffices to say we enjoyed a wonderful time exploring the culture and agriculture abroad. FYI, we learned that rapeseed, a flowering member of the family Brassicaceae (mustard or cabbage family) was in full yellow bloom on those farm fields. The crop is cultivated mainly for its oil-rich seed and is grown extensively in Germany.