Several years ago I decided I was only going to support local immigrant farmers, Hmong farmers in particular. I meet a young Hmong woman, Mhonpaj Lee who was a medical interpreter. Mhonpaj grew up farming in Minnesota and initially she resisted following into the footsteps of her elders. But farming runs deep in the Hmung culture and after graduating from college she took over the family plot. Turns out Mhonpaj became a leader in the local Hmung farming community and has empowered her family and her community to integrate western farming methods along side of traditional Hmung methods. She connected the Hmung farming community with the Minnesota Food Association that has helped them develop farming business plans. In short, Mhonpaj is a local hero to the Hmung farming community. Her story compelled me to learn more about the Hmung farming community in MN and decided I wanted to support them as best I could. So I make a deliberate point to buy from the Hmung farmers. I enjoy visiting with them, learning about their farms and watching the entire family run the business.
On this particular day these shelled peas caught my eye. I am not one to shy away from work, quite to the contrary. I love any labor associated with food and cooking but two young girls managing the stall told me they had shelled these peas themselves. They were certainly more expensive and I need four pounds. I wanted to honor their labor and buy the peas they had shelled with their little hands. Many would say I spent way too much, but I left two very happy young girls smiling and hopefully feeling empowered. As for myself I got home and made my favorite cold pea soup. You can find the recipe in previous post from last summer.