"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

fresh produce surprises

as part of my self-imposed green initiatives, i've been going to the local farmers' market every week. just this small change in my weekly routine has made a profound impact on my overall health and wellness that i thought it warranted some reflection:

the average consumer buys fruits and vegetables that have been trucked from across the country (or from other countries) days, weeks, maybe months(?) before it is purchased and consumed at home. produce that has been sprayed with chemicals and refrigerated for long periods to preserve them on the long journey from farm to table. the result is dull-tasting, homogenized produce that has been sapped of most of its nutrients and flavor.

the difference between supermarket produce and fresh produce purchased directly from a farmer is huge!

take cherry tomatoes: earlier this summer, i once spent nearly twenty minutes at a nearby Safeway trying to find a package of cherry tomatoes worth purchasing. it took so long because every single one i picked up was gross - the tomatoes were squishy and overripe, some were already oozing and reeked of rot. i eventually bought a half empty package of tomatoes, only to throw them out a few days later because i was too afraid to eat them.

i thought that maybe cherry tomatoes are just easily prone to rotting and squishing, but that just goes to show you how skewed our conventional knowledge of food is as a result of our agricultural practices.

the cherry tomatoes i have been buying at the farmers market every weekend are PERFECT. i never thought about how delicious, refreshing, and filling tomatoes could be. whereas store-bought cherry tomatoes have always been sour and overly firm to the point of spurting all over you when you bite into them, farmers market cherry tomatoes have been consistently plump, tender, and ambrosially sweet. just to illustrate the difference further: my prior experiences with cherry tomatoes were so tainted, that i initially avoided buying the red round cherry tomato variety altogether. but, after weeks of testing out different vendors and varieties of cherry tomatoes, i've found that the red ones are by far my favorite - when they are fresh and in-season, they can be as surprisingly sweet as a strawberry, with a warm, soupy quality to the juicy insides. the skins are soft and tender, practically melting in your mouth when you bite into them, yet firm, not fragile, as i originally thought. it's been one of my best discoveries all summer, and i've been buying them by the pounds, eating them by the handful like grapes every day. they're surprisingly refreshing and make for a great lunchtime dessert/snack. plus, cancer-fighting!

another amazing discovery: farmers market grapes! i love eating grapes, but one gripe i have is the gross, rubbery, wet-sponge smell i get on my fingers whenever i eat a big bunch of grapes. it happens every time, no matter how thoroughly i wash them, and it always seems i can never wash grapes thoroughly enough! they always have that waxy/dusty film on them that only comes off if you scrub your grapes individually with a cloth or papertowel.

you can even see some of that film i'm talking about here in this stock photo!

well, i found out recently that not all grapes have that nasty film on them! i was thrilled to discover, after buying organic red grapes from the farmers market last weekend, that grapes untreated with chemicals and preservatives not only taste great, but smell great too! they were delectably crisp and crunchy, juicy sweet, not a single one was wrinkled and moldy, and my hands didn't stink after i ate them! and they were only a third of the price i usually pay at the grocery store. i feel like such a chump for not buying locally farmed, fresh grapes before!

as great as fresh produce is, i feel like such an entitled bourgeois jerk for bragging about these discoveries, because many Americans don't have access to, or the means to purchase, fresh produce such as the ones i delight in every week. let alone organic produce. i realize my enthusiasm for fresh fruit and veggies and nutritional health is a privilege; it's a shame our society makes it easier for a working-class family to purchase processed pseudo-food high in starch, fat, salt and sugar, than a bag of fresh carrots and cherry tomatoes.

something is clearly wrong with our society when baby carrots have to undergo rebranding to be marketed and sold like junk food.

No comments: