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During one of my art events in a local farmers market this summer I ended up beside a lady who was selling vegetables from her own greenhouse. I still hear her repeat, tirelessly, all day long, “these were picked fresh this morning”. And then, when someone was looking at her tomatoes, she said “my tomatoes actually taste like tomatoes, not cardboard”. I was intrigued. Eat your fruits and vegetables, they say. Five or ten a day, depending on who you ask. But it seems to have gotten to a point where the fact that vegetables that taste like actual vegetables, has become a novelty – a unique selling point, so to speak.
The lady was neighbourly enough to give me some of her products at the end of the day that she would otherwise have to throw out. It’s not meant to be ungrateful, but really I was getting her old stuff that she didn’t want to sell anymore. And when I cooked dinner that night I learned she was right – tomatoes that taste like tomatoes are a novelty. Her vegetables tasted amazing – even the older ones that she didn’t want to sell anymore. I’m curious now what it is exactly that I have been buying at the grocery store for so many years.
I watched a few documentaries on food. I learned strawberries, for example, don’t grow year round. They only grow in strawberry season. The fact we can buy them year round is because they’re shipped to us from all around the world. Most of them by boat or by truck. Now imagine shipping fresh, ripe strawberries from a sunny place like California all the way across the country. They’d be rotten by the time they arrive. So instead they’re harvested well before they’re fully ripe, and the ripening continues in the truck, using special gasses and chemicals, similar to alkaline (you know, that “healthy” stuff a battery is made of), to give them a consistent texture, color, and taste. Like cardboard, indeed.
One of the documentaries concludes with the recommendation to buy food only with about a 150km radius around the place you live. And, when possible, directly from the farm (at the farm). Because not all organic food sold at farmers markets is as local or organic as the vendor want us to believe. It it turns out some (not all!) vendors simply sell Costco’s organic produce at a markup. Buying directly from the farmer who grows (or raises) their own produce seems the way to go. It’s a fun trip and you really get to see how it works. I learned a lot.Turns out milk comes from a cow, not from the factory.
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