Eric Menzel

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Eric Menzel always had a fascination with food. In the pursuit of healthier food and healthier living, Eric began farming on a small scale with his wife, Eve, in rural Iowa. Although he recognizes his new career will never make him rich, he has found meaning in his daily routine of hard work and healthy living. Eric finds peace through simple living that reflects his personal values.

“You’re going to stumble and make mistakes but keep working toward creating a better result.”

Maybe I’m romanticizing it, but the way I conceptualize farming of the past was that people had neighbors they relied on and shared the struggle with. Today everything is so convenient and leisurely that the struggle is over physically, but there’s also no neighborhood. There’s the guy with 2,000 acres here, and you’ve got to travel 10 miles to get to the guy with 4,000 acres over there. Farmers have everything they need, so there’s no community in the countryside, or it’s really sparse.

There used to be interaction between small towns and farmers, because there were all these small businesses related to farming. Most of that has disappeared. So that void is what we are trying to fill with this type of agriculture. People want to get together for a Sunday picnic after a long day of threshing. They want to go pluck a chicken. They want to do things together that make them feel alive.

Eric Menzel full podcast

Discussion Questions

  • How do you go about fostering community in your own life? How do you see community and food as being linked? How do you foster a community where people can be themselves without fear? What is the value of such a community?
  • What are your thoughts on Eric’s three kinds of peace? Would you use this categorization to describe your view of peace? Is there any overlap in these types of peace? How does inner peace differ from peace in relationships? Is there overlap between these? How does the idea of world peace fit into this?
  • Does the food you eat influence your view of peace? If so, how? If not, what are some ways that food and peace could be related? How is your physical health related to your view of peace?
  • Eric talks about his affinity for hard work. Do you share this affinity? What do you like and/or not like about working hard? What do you work the hardest for in your life? What is one thing you wish you didn’t have to work as hard for? What is one thing you could work harder for?
  • Eric concedes that he may be romanticizing the story by saying that in the past, people (farmers) had more interaction and stronger connections between each other. Do you think this is a romanticized or idealized view? What would be the benefits of adjusting our society to the more community-based lifestyle Eric talks about? Would there be any downsides to this type of lifestyle?
  • What are the biggest distractions in your life? What are a few things that most often occupy your thoughts?
  • How would you describe your quality of living?

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