Pioneering Today author Melissa K. Norris recently sat down for a chat about homesteading skills and faith with The Inquisitr. Norris is not only a renowned pioneering traditions expert but is a historical romance and Christian fiction novelist as well. She practices her “olden days” habits in the Cascade Mountains, where she lives with her husband and two children.
Melissa Norris’ writing career has enabled her to blend her desire to provide a healthy lifestyle for her family with her immense faith in God. All of her books and weekly newspaper column are inspired life on her family’s small beef cattle farm, her love of old-fashioned homesteading techniques, and her days spent as an amateur barrel racer. The Pioneering Today author grew up devouring the pages of Laura Ingalls Wilder books. “Half Pint” would likely be proud that Norris is tending to her own little house in the big woods in such a loving and proficient manner.
Melissa Norris Interview
IQ: Some of your books and multiple blog posts focus on reviving our pioneer heritage. Why is preserving the traditions of the past such a labor of love for you and why are such skills important for the common American?
Melissa: If we don’t preserve the traditions of the past, they’ll be lost. I don’t want my children to grow up ignorant of how to take of themselves and the land. Our health, debt, and families can be redeemed by many of the skills and traditions of the past. Food grown at home has more nutritional value than fruit and vegetables from the store and even local farmer markets, though farmer markets are an excellent choice if you can’t grow anything at home. For those living in the city, container gardening can still be a way to grow some of your own food. I noticed that when I was outside in the garden, I felt a closeness to God. Watching a seed sprout to maturity, to harvest, and then back to seed form is such an amazing example of the way God takes care of us.
IQ: There has been a resurgence of canning and organic backyard gardens recently. Off the grid, ad homesteading Americans are rediscovering the habits of our ancestors for a multitude of reasons. How important do you think canning and the fresh food movement is in relation to disaster preparedness?
Melissa: Canning is a huge part of it. The beauty of canned food is you’re not dependent on power to keep your food. Plus, freezers sometimes fail and I’d hate to come home to see all my food supply had thawed and ruined. We live in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains and frequently lose power in the winter, and sometimes summer.
When you can food as soon as it’s picked, you retain more of the health benefits than canned food from the store. Canning is really quite easy. It doesn’t have to take up all of your time, though there is some time investment at the peak of harvest time. Did I mention canned food tastes better? My children won’t touch green beans canned from the store. I still work outside the home, run my website, write for the newspaper, and will have my own radio show, and I still can almost all of our food.
IQ: In addition to being a pioneer living expert, you are also a Christian writer and public speaker. How has your faith influenced your lifestyles and homesteading habits? What is the focus of your Pioneering Today column?
Melissa: My faith influences everything I do. I believe that taking care of the land God gifted us with is very important. The focus of Pioneering Today is taking the best of the pioneer lifestyle and applying it to our modern lives. I share how to do this in easy, practical ways for everyone, no matter where they live We practice all organic farming on our homestead, including how we raise our natural grass-fed beef.
IQ: How do you feel about Monsanto and GMO food?
Melissa: GMO crops are very dangerous. We have no implications of how they’ll affect nature. Plus, I firmly believe they go against the Bible. I have an article backing up that belief on my website. One of the ways to stay away from GMO crops completely is to raise heirloom crops.
The benefits of heirloom crops is huge. There is greater variety, taste, color, and often more nutrients in heirloom crops. For instance, we grow an heirloom purple potato that has 10 times more antioxidants than a regular potato. Plus, the kids love the color of purple mashed potatoes.
These are plants exactly how God made them, untouched by science. They’re the seeds our pioneer forefathers used. In fact, we have a strain of bean seed that’s been saved for over a 100 years in my family. You can’t purchase it anywhere. I’ve never seen it in any seed catalog, even though I only purchase from heirloom catalogs.
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