Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Spoiled Seedless

Our manager sent out an email today entreating everyone in our group to eat healthy food. It was a little strange. Apparently he's being contientious these days and other people were saying "yeah, I should do that, or something" so he wanted to invite everyone to join the "fun". Discussing this consumed a fair amount of the morning, in bits and pieces. Some one suggested that all we were allowed to eat was the highly fiberous cardboard that food comes in.

During the discussions on healthful food, though, people were skirting around a huge mound of concord grapes one of the other managers had picked and brought in to share. Concord grapes, along with cherries, are one of my favorite foods. No fewer than four people let me know that they had, shudder, seeds! Never been a problem for me. I bite halfway through the grape in a way that squirts the juicy inside out. I chew on the skins a bit. I suck a bit on the sweet center and may or may not chew it some more before I swallow it. If seeds come out, I spit them out, if they don't, I swallow them. No big deal.

It has started to alarm me how many people cannot tolerate the idea of seeds in their food. It's a reaction I would expect from a toddler, not a full grown adult. They're seeds, not shards of broken glass. What with seedless grapes, watermelon, and the like, people are removed from the entertainment value of spitting while snacking. I worry sometimes about this. Although if it means there are more cactus pears left for me because seed panickers won't eat them it might not be all bad.

No wonder we rely so much on modified, pre-packaged, post-seed-removal foods. The more that show up, the more people forget that there's any other way. People go on and on about the benefits of skinless boneless chicken breasts - probably my least favorite portion of the bird. It's the meat equivalent of cardboard having all the color, flavor, and texture removed. I like the dark meat, myself, even if it comes with bones and tendons. I also eat the knuckle meat and small legs from the lobster.

Even so, I can't get too high and mighty. I will fess up to not caring for wings, being only skin and tendons with sauce. (Just point me at the drumsticks.) I don't eat enough beef to feel that I need to resort to tripe. Or hooves. I have ordered stuff from the butcher at the Mexican grocery across the street and have not liked it. I don't recognize most of the stuff they sell, in fact. It doesn't look a thing like the American grocery butcher counter which is now mostly prepped food like stuffed chops and deli treats. I wonder if it is is good, bad or indifferent that I don't recognize someone else's regular meal as food. Are they laughing at me the way I laugh at the no-seed-eaters?

Every generation makes more convenient food, and that's generally to the good. But we've moved so far away from where food comes from that our tolerance for its little peculiarities alarms me. I try to can stuff every so often and realize that there are tricks to preserving food that are being lost that used to be common knowledge. Recipes and instructions leave out some details that make things go better. Frankly, my grandmas love Green Giant. If they never canned another thing as long as they lived, they'd consider it a blessing. They've forgotten their canning tricks but I still remember their bread and butter pickles.

I wonder if the day will come when we want that knowledge and have to re-learn it the hard way. Maybe I'm just a luddite who wants to know how things work. At least sconome and I can make pickles that don't kill us or our friends. And I have a nice can of freshly packed Alaska salmon staring at me from the counter so all hope is not lost. And here I've only just started reading the grow-your-own food book and I've started to get insufferable even knowing that I am not a reliable gardener and depend on others to make things grow.


Speaking of grandmas, Happy 91st to Grandma P. She's been remarried for 5 years and 2 weeks now and is enjoying the heck out of life.


farmwifetwo said...

"We can't eat GMO food" but we can eat HYBRID ones. HYBRID = GMO. Same thing, just takes longer. You know, the seedless ones?? The one's that if the world comes to an end... you cannot grow.

Those seedless grapes come from nice DDT using countries like Chili here. And anyone who says "BUT the USDA/CFIA wouldn't allow that".... let me put it this way. They check ours going out.. but NOTHING coming in. That's what the screaming is about. The Concords come from Niagara, love them.


EAT FRESH, BUY LOCAL!!! And organic is not better. Unless you prefer bugs in your bed. And yes, b/c of the "we can't spray pesticides" crusade there's more bugs than normal.. even in the beds at fancy hotels in N. America.

Gotta love the "I believe everything I read" segment of the population - ::shudders::


Up My Mind said...

"Eat fresh, buy local, grow your own if/where/when you can" has been my inclination since reading this book. :) Hence our garden this summer. We didn't do too bad considering we don't know what we're doing and didn't spend much time on maintenance other than watering and weeding once or twice...

I will say this, though, the Green Apples (supposedly organic) I get at the Natural Food Store taste a million times better than the ones I get anywhere else in town. They buy from Chile, although there are WA orchards they could buy from....I keep mentioning it to them.

My next goal: figure out what is in/out of season for the area I'm in.

farmwifetwo said...

Organic from Chili is not organic from WA.

USDA Grade #1 - is only colour, size and visual. Does it look like an apple?? Therefore it must be an apple.

US organic rules and organic rules from other countries are not the same.

So... back to the Eat Fresh, Buy Local.

Oh... and remember those Chili apples were picked GREEN and may still have been ripened by sprays (organic apples too) before they got to the store shelves.


CrankyOtter said...

Like lead paint on toys, if you import from a country that doesn't have policies to protect workers, environments, and products, it can't be a surprise when you find out that it's cheaper because there are corners being cut. Which is one reason I still go to my expensive, price fixing farmers market.

That, and I've tried and failed to grow things. Noemi and I tried to garden for a few years, but we'd care for it in fits and spurts, not regularly. So we'd get a giant crop of nasturtiums (tasty leaves for salads), a dozen chili peppers, 4 beans and a gourd. One year we actually grew tomatoes and I found that I could eat one of the cherry sized varietals raw (not a usual occurence for me) so that was a win. But things went much better when we hired Farmer Steve to grow our food instead of doing it ourselves. I don't have a local Farmer Steve yet; I gave up on Mr. Produce after a sad disappointment with bad cherries.

I did have access to apples in New England. I made the interesting discovery that Red Delicious apples really are good... but ONLY if you eat them within an hour of being picked. After that, the flavor vanishes, never to be found again. Everywhere I go, I mostly see apples from New Zealand these days. I bought one yesterday, but only one. I'd rather have local apples. Do they even grow apples here?

Up My Mind said...

So the Chile or US apples are better? Or is there no difference? See, it's just so confusing. Or I'm just too too tired today. LOL.

I thought from WA state would be better, as it's closer. As long as those Granny Smith apples actually taste like Granny Smith's and not mushy blah apples. ;)

Erika, have you checked out the accompanying website for the book? There're links to all sorts of farmer's markets, etc. That's how I found our local CSA although it was too late to buy shares for this year. And then we planted our own. I've had lettuce, potatoes, onions and some rather puny carrots (our error) from our gardden so far.

farmwifetwo said...

Buy USA first, then Canada, then Europe and then wherever else.

Closer to home, the better and fresher it is. Also, you get all those lower travelling emmissions and sprayed ripener on your food doesn't happen.

I grow potatoes, onions, peppers, tomatoes, raspberries, strawberries, peas, garlic and I had about 2 carrots come up. But this year is poor - except for the potatoes and onions. Too much drought and with the well I can't justify the extra water. We have melons, pumpkins and LOTS of tomatoes in the field for canning.

My garden is organic solely b/c of little people in it. The field is not.

I buy in season fruit/veggies that I don't grow either from the fruit farm or Amish nearby. Like blueberries, green beans, cherries, peaches. I have 2 pear trees and a few pears this year. They are only a few years old. You have to have 2 trees to pollenate or like my one tree, there are 5 different grafts on it. So 5 different types of pears. So technically I only need one tree but I have 2.