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Serving: West

Breaking bread

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There's just something about sitting down around the dinner table that makes for the best conversations.

It's a hard-fast rule in our household that meals are eaten at the kitchen bar or table. It's a singular location where our family meets: My farmer and son from the field, my Little from her garden, my oldest home from Texas Tech and me from my office. It's often brief but it's carved out time to engage, sometimes argue but mostly listen, share and laugh a lot. 

What is it about gathering around the dinner table or sharing a meal that makes for meaningful conversation? Is it the food or the table or maybe it's the seating arrangement? Or is it the direct eye contact that's required sitting across from each other? Or maybe it's that everyone gets a chance to talk because, at some point, someone has their mouth full?

Recently, I've had the opportunity to gather around various dinner tables. On the Texas Coast, I ate supper on the front lawn of Daniel and Camie Berglund's where beautifully adorned tables filled an open-aired tent for a Field to Fork event. The dinner was the conclusion to an afternoon tour targeted at educating food bloggers and influences about how the food they write about is produced. They toured the Berglunds' rice and corn farm, along with a fish farm and United Ag's cotton gin. While dining on fancy carrots and Texas beef, I observed area farmers sitting with metropolitan foodies along with NRCS personnel and commodity leaders. There was a constant exchange between the diverse group – a lot of talking and listening, as well.  

See, Karl Stutzman: 2022 PEA winner

Another meal was shared in Lubbock over fried catfish and chicken. Alton Taylor, who I had never met, painted a picture of a cover photo I took and published in 2018. He invited my farmer and I to have dinner so he could give me the painting. It was such a special gesture and evening. Also in attendance were his farm renters. As we sat in the living room in a circle, awkward conversation dissolved as we realized in-common friendships and shared stories about everything from farming to vacations to the evening's homemade desserts.    

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Southwest Farm Press Editor Shelley E. Huguley holds her photo while Alton Taylor displays the painting he made from her photo. 

In Oklahoma, I ate lunch with Karl and Brenda Stutzman around their dining room table with their two college-aged daughters, Erika and Kayla. Karl is our 2022 Southwest Peanut Efficiency Award (PEA) winner. Though acquainted through an on-tractor interview and a photo shoot in over 100-degree temperatures, lunch around their table lent itself to a deeper dive into their farming heritage, an interview with Brenda about her rural health practice, along with an announcement by the girls regarding an upcoming road trip, a conversation I'm guessing was revisited after I left. 

See, Metropolitan food bloggers tour Texas Coast farms

This month, I will gather around another table for a meal celebrating peanut producers and their families at the 2022 PEA Breakfast. While I look forward to the "meet and greet" as guests arrive, it's the conversations unwrapped over biscuits and gravy that I look forward to the most. You just never know what you'll learn gathered around the table.     

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