Saturday, October 04, 2008

Growing pains.

I’m becoming mildly obsessed about the food I feed my body. Having just read Barbara Kingsolvers’ Animal, Vegetable, Miracle I couldn’t help but wake up to the tragedy that has become the American chemical plant that most of us consume and pretend is nutritional cuisine.

If you consider the amount of poisoned, genetically modified, and well travelled garbage we eat, it’s no wonder that in the West cases of ADHA, Alzheimer’s and Obesity are on the rise. Not to mention the fossil fuel consumption in transporting said poison and subsequent burdon on our health systems (personal and national). We are voluntarily polluting ourselves and our environment and for the most part we don’t even know it…..or even worse, we do know it and don’t care.

My Dad worked as a wholesale Fruit and Veg merchant his whole life so I’ve always had a fondness for markets, finding them a real hub of any village, town or city. At the end of each week he received a ‘goody bag’ of produce with the silent caveat “Just in case you were thinking of nicking something-here’s some free stuff so you don’t”! Therefore we were a vegetable rich family, though I confess to sometimes scoffing at mere receipt of free potatoes, carrots and onions….."where are the Uglis, Satsumas and the other really good stuff"? Clearly back then I was already missing the point, ungrateful for the staples and already lured by the imported exotics.

Despite my taking those veggies for granted I do remember they had real flavor, something that has been genetically removed these days in favor of shelf life. I guess with 7 billion people on the planet to feed I can understand the logic, but I for one am sick to death of eating dead tasteless veggies, which is why I started my own garden using seeds from Europe.
(Ooofff that was a tough paragraph. I'm still grappling with myself "should I put the 'U' back in flavour & favour?")

So today when I went to our local farmers market in Makawao I had that same giddy glee as when I used to opens Dad’s weekly goody bag. “What did we get, what’s in season and wtf is that”?! The relief I had in talking to local farmers who knew their product inside and out, the soil, the growing time, what they fed the chickens and the passion and pride they had in selling their produce was deeply satisfying. And cheap…….!

Look at lovely Andrea (aka Superagentatlarge) with her bountiful produce, Sistah, your Poha Berries were bloody delicious, proving a tiny point that you don't have to import exotic produce especially to a place like Hawaii. It all brings a whole new meaning to the term 'local'.

As for my own garden well, it’s a bit of a see-saw ride between gratification and disappointment. Look at this beautiful egg plant but there’s only one and its taken two months (at least) to show up. Plus wtf are those white lave looking things just waiting to bury themselves into the flesh of my dinner the day I harvest it? Still, when it is cut from its green umbilical cord I will no doubt require an audience and an enthusiastic round of applause, not dissimilar to that of parents at a crap school play.

It’s a humble start and I notice in these uncertain times I feel the desire to dig for victory and become mildly self sustaining. It sounds like a crazy notion but the idea of growing the main stay of my own vegetable intake (don’t worry I’m not going native) is absurdly appealing to me. Time will tell, in a few books from now will the inspiration of Barbara Kinsolvers quest to feed her family for a year have disappeared or properly taken root?


Anonymous said...

I hate to burst your bubble where W Paley & Son Ltd were concerned.
They were the first wholesalers in Leeds market to sell imported exotic fruit so, daughter dear, you were one of the few children who got to eat strawberries out of season!!!! This started pre-war so I haven't a clue what the fruit were daubed in in order to keep their "freshness" - most coming from S Africa by boat in those days. I do remember individual fruit being wrapped in beautiful tissue paper.
However, your point is taken - good on you for doing your bit for organic food and supporting small growers. Sadly, we live in the age of the supermarket who are taking over from the corner shop.
I do think people are seeing the light with the growth of peoples' markets - they are certainly growing in popularity over here.

Who thought I would raise a daughter with such outspoken opinions - not at all the timid child I remember:-)

Mater x

Anonymous said...

Apart from egg plants and lettuce what's the leggy stalk with green leaves? I feel very inadequate with a father and husband who were both keen gardeners and here I am not knowing what you are growing.

You're taking after your Dad - Tone used to love growing scarlet runners, courgettes and peas (but they weren't for cooking, they were for eating straight from the pod). He didn't bother with any other veg. Yummy memories.

Mater x

Lano said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lano said...

Great post Sharon, very well timed in our household as well, as we tuck into a feast of veggies after a long weekend of not so healthy foods. My dad used to be a market gardener, dabbling in cauliflowers and cabbages, as well as apples and pears. I continued the tradition by making my first job after leaving school, a stint at the produce markets in Adelaide, as a forklift driver at 3am every morning. Work all night, surf all day, life seemed so uncomplicated.

Sharon said...

Mater: Think of your own habits...M & S for everything instead of the local greengrocer, butcher and bread shop. Why do you drive further, to pay less (?) and wouldn't it feel better to support a local shop verses a big chain?.

Long green things are broccoli (which I've since pulled due to infestation of something), my zucchini had the same fate, but arugula, peas, tomatoes, and radishes are still hanging in there.

Lano: Ugh, my poor Dad got up at 4am for 100 years, expect in Strawberry season, then it was 3am!
He also had a habit of falling asleep at dinner parties, whilst still at the table! Job fallout or crap company...we'll never know?!

Anonymous said...

Definitely job fallout - company always good at dinner parties.

Mater x

meesh said...

U'll put the U in Ur words if U want Ur English beans missie!

Anonymous said...

That's my girl Meesh - put your "Us" where they count - up the Brits. I've just reread that, I don't mean literally "up" the Brits.........

Mater x