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 on Benvoulin Road. 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 cum 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 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!
Seriously, if you are interested in being involved in a sustainable community, check out Slow Food. There is a new convivium here in the Okanagan Similkameen. You can find it on Facebook, check out Slow Food Canada online or even come to a get-together at the Wine Country Visitor's Centre in Penticton, Tuesday, July 24 at 5 pm.
I am all for local businesses to create jobs, produce good products and make profit at the end of the year. But I have to say the worst company that I can see having sacrificed taste for more sales is HOT HOUSE TOMATES. What a rip off! They all look perfectly grown… and taste like not much. The color looks not so natural, although they are red, but the red looks like it has been added after! I know that BC Hot House must employ thousands of people who can pay their mortgages by growing those bad tomatoes and I respect that, but I am sure not going to buy those products if I can avoid it.
I once heard this compelling argument from a lady in Quebec who grows blueberries for a living. Because she needs to be able to make a good living, she sells all her production to the highest bidder. The problem (you have guessed it), the highest bidder is the good old USA. So when she goes to do her grocery in her local Quebec/Canada food chain, she is faced with buying USA blueberries. Yes, the USA buys from her because her blueberries are superior quality, and they sell their USA made, not-so-good quality back to the Canadian food chain.
I don’t believe that our government should support any agriculture that has no future or can’t make money on their own. It is a business and like any business, farmers need to find good agriculture products that are profitable. I do believe that our government should create taxes and/or some kind of tough hurdle for the USA companies to come here and get our good stuff and leave us with their bad stuff.
Anyway, Al Gore is all over the world, promoting the smart use of the environment right now and we hear phrases like green house effect, save our planet, live green, global warming, save the ozone layer all the time. Maybe somebody high profile should be promoting the production of good fruits and vegetables for our kids. The term “Genetic Food” does not sound good to me and I know that it would not sound good to my daughter either.
So, save the planet AND its fruits and vegetables.