I just finished a book that may have changed the way I look at eating produce. The book, This Organic Life, 2001, (see link to right under “Good Reads”) is by Joan Dye Gussow, a woman who must be in her 80s now, and writes about her experiences growing all her own vegetables (and some fruit) in her suburban home in New York.I thoroughly enjoyed this book– Gussow’s writing style is easy to follow, honest, poignant & sometimes funny. Although I don’t plan to start growing all my own produce, I have always loved the idea of growing some (waiting on my 2 tomato plants & 1 jalapeno plant as we speak!). She gives great info on (organic) gardening techniques, and tasty recipes to use those ingredients you grow too.
But what I took most out of the book is the idea of eating locally (not a super new idea) and eating fruits & veggies in season (a very new idea to me). I honestly had never thought about this. Our American Consumerism stretches to even foods here as we (my generation) have grown up in the SUPERMarket era of being able to eat whatever, whenever, with very little restrictions due to something being “out of season.” This practice has negatively impacted our environment, local farmers, and even our own tastebuds! Unlike those dumb AM/PM minimart commercials, I think there can be “too much good stuff” (especially when it’s been bred to be not so good), because we become dulled to taste; we don’t savor things, knowing that we only have certain time of year to eat them.
Gussow’s greatest example of this is the tomato. Here’s an excerpt from her chapter called “Lessons from the Tomato:”
“The item accompanying iceberg lettuce in the standard winter salad is the sliced or sectioned orange golf ball deceptively called a tomato. Everyone over fifty knows that the tomato used to be a soft, juicy, sweet-sour fruit… Science has converted this succulent summer treat into a hard, orange, bland, starchy ball that can be sliced or sectioned and served “fresh” any time of year” (page 184).
Mmmm, sounds appetizing, doesn’t it? But seriously, we’ve all had tomatoes like that! And we’ve probably also had a delicious home-grown summertime tomato at least once! I for one, am looking forward to looking into trying to eat more locally and more seasonally!
Now go read this book! It’s awesome!