Friday, July 22, 2011

The Taste of Food

We've become regular farmer's market shoppers this summer. Most Sunday mornings we head to the fantastic farmer's market under the JFX in Baltimore City. If you haven't been, go... details here. If you don't live near Maryland, find a farmer's market near you. Local Harvest has a great search tool.

Our Sunday morning trips have had a pretty profound impact on how we eat which even I'm surprised by. The most notable benefit is that we buy less and eat what we buy. Going to the grocery store invokes more of an "I want that" mentality as you stuff the basket with things you think you might like. Buying from the farmers is the first step in a relationship. I value the time and effort they invested in the foods they are selling. I'm reminded, often, of my grandparents who were also farmer's and the commitment and love required to farm for a living. I'm impressed by these farmers' knowledge and willingness to be at their farm stand, with their wares ready at 7 AM on a Sunday morning. Buying this way somehow makes the food we buy more precious. And, we eat it. I'm less apt to disregard what is in the fridge for the week's meals. I'm more creative tossing things together and trying new inventions without even consulting a recipe. And, the food is amazing.

Case in point: Strawberries. June is strawberry season in Maryland and we had some utterly amazing strawberries last month. Seriously, utterly amazing. Sweet. Juicy. A deep, passionate reddish-purple color. Small. And the taste? Wow. Your mouth is having a party and your brain is saying, "Ah, yes. This is what food is supposed to taste like." We spent those weeks with those strawberries just having one on occasion. One was all you needed. One was perfect. You would savor the one. Enjoy it. And, for a brief moment experience food induced bliss.

Organic Strawberry from
Grocery Store
Sadly, last week we didn't make the farmer's market. In retrospect, no excuse. We could have gotten up at 6 AM Sunday morning to make it before our other commitment. We didn't and I've regretted it all week. Monday I went to our locally-owned, mostly organic and fantastic grocery store, Roots, to buy some food for the week. I bought a pint of organic strawberries. I had one today. Ick. It tasted like some combination of fake sugar and prickly cardboard. Take a look ---> it seems like a perfectly reasonable strawberry. It is red, firm, ripe. And, it was horrid. Almost "spit it out horrid," but I managed to choke it down for the sake of the writing about the experience.

I'm sitting here now thinking about all of the people that don't ever get to taste real food. There are millions of children in this country who've never had a strawberry. Not a conventional, non-organic one poisoned with pesticides. Not an organic one. And certainly not a real, fresh from the farmer's market one. One personally picked from the strawberry plant? Not a chance.

These children and millions of their parents live on food from boxes and fast food places and don't actually know what food tastes like. For as disappointing my organic strawberry was this morning I can still say it was a zillion times better than a Pop-tart. What have we done to this county and our children? We've, though Government policy and big business, managed to make food-like products coming from a box seem normal. Next year during strawberry season I may just buy them all and walk the streets of Baltimore sharing them with anyone I meet.

From Lao-tzu, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Perhaps, in this case, the step is a single strawberry.

No comments:

Post a Comment