Slow down, and save our fruits and veggies!
This post was first published in my weekly column on Castanet, a local Okanagan news website. I liked it so much I wanted to make sure you didn’t miss it if you follow me here!
I know I am going to sound like a nostalgic old fart this week, but if you will indulge me a little, I think I can bring you around to a pertinent point that requires everyone’s attention, even that of the “young farts”…
Last weekend we sat down for breakfast to enjoy a nice pastry with some fresh strawberries I had bought. I will attest that they were not local – I couldn’t find local ones at the Westside stores and regrettably I didn’t have the time to go downtown and visit the u-pick places. However, I did not think I deserved to be punished for buying from a larger store; they usually try to offer the best products within their channels. The utter lack of taste that I experienced was in total contrast to the plump, intensely red outer appearance. Was I to expect that was too good to be true? I felt like I was eating a cardboard cut-out of the food I was expecting.
Later that same day I had the same kind of experience all over again. (I kid you not – I really felt picked on by this point…) It was a hot day, and I thought, “What better thing to do than to have a piece of watermelon and spit the seeds off the deck like we did when I was a kid?” I am sure that was how generations of kids learned to spit. After all, the alternative was having a watermelon grow in your tummy, and who wants that? (My Gramps told me that, and he was never wrong.)
Well, that is all fine and good unless you live in today’s world where watermelons are all seedless (and they often don’t taste like much either). I figured that the reason both the strawberries and the watermelon didn’t taste like anything was the produce equivalent of a big box store: mass production. But then I wondered, just how do they produce masses of any kind of produce when they have no seeds??
That is when the whole thing started to get a bit scary, as I started to contemplate some kind of scientific lab slash greenhouse where an injection or laser perhaps was the secret to starting a new fruit. It made me think of episodes of “The Twilight Zone” where you thought at first the idea was too far-fetched to ever be possible, but by the end you realized that you had been hoodwinked and you were left helpless in a world filled with these dangerous far-fetched ideas as part of everyday life.
I know that at this point I have not gotten the attention of any younger folks, since they tend to figure that technology is almost always an advantage and unless a government conspiracy is involved, bigger ideas and projects are better. I am not against advancing, but I do think we should look before we leap.
You may not be a garden geek like me, using heirloom seeds and loving the wild plants that come up in the garden after the birds have dropped them or the compost has sprouted them. But here is another good reason to support those local farmers that grow food that survives in this environment. Even if they are not growing organic food, it is certainly sustainable. You may not have a memory of food from days gone by, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve food with character. Down with wimpy watermelons!
If you want to get involved in a network that works to support having a sustainable food community, Slow Food is a worldwide non-profit organization with members in 160 countries around the world. It was formed over twenty years ago in Italy as a way to counteract the trend of fast food. A local chapter, or convivium, is being formed. Check out their website for information on how we can change the world and connect people through food!