Sunday, September 14, 2008

"Pesticides.. Ain't Killed No One"...

Yep, Believe it or not... that's what the guy said!
So the whole story... my family and I went to the WNC Farmer's Market.. the BIG one in town.. the one run by the state... not one of the many small farmer ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project) sponsored ones at the Health Food Store parking lots or the City Market where organic growing methods are common and a general understanding that natural and organic methods are important for so many reasons!
This Farmers Market is sponsored by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. We went in search of a bulk quantity of apples, peaches and gourds...
Well it was amazing! First we explored the retail barns.. NO organics... some heirloom tomatoes but nothing touting it's organically grown and natural methods..
Then we moved on to the Watermelon and Peach area which for some reason also has pumpkins... It was clear to me that the lack of signs about ORGANIC, meant that everything was conventionally grown..
I spoke with one fellow who was selling gourds and pumpkins... When I asked him about pesticides... he told me that it was me NOT possible to grow pumpkins without spraying them...
Well, I have some lovelies that we harvested that very day from my garden... beautiful pumpkins WITHOUT spraying of any kind! Nothing!
Then we moved onto the barns. Lots of vendors....not a single mention of ORGANIC!
By this time I had sworn off the peaches I wanted.. I have been dreaming of peach butter.. but if I am going to put in the time and effort to make and preserve peach butter... well... I am going to do it with organically grown produce...
David just wanted apples that he did not have to pay $2/pound for... which is what the conventional ones are in our local grocery store.. So there he is buying a box for $12. a deal!
But I say to the guy selling them, "So are there pesticides used on these apples?"
"Of course" he says.
I say, "Well, that's too bad."
He continues, "Pesticides are safe, Ain't killed no one... look at all of the people walking around!"...
Do you believe it?? By this time, I am almost speechless...
But I manage to say, "Depends on how you measure the dead."
This interaction has given me alot to think about! So just how DO we measure the cost of pesticide is SO about the poisoning of our planet... Our water, our air, our soil...
these are all things that are necessary for life... all life!
Your life, my life, the lives of our pets and food animals, and yes... even those who are unwilling to believe that there is a problem!
The more we degrade our soils with chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizer, the less we actually can produce from that land. And unhealthy land yields unhealthy life!
How do we measure the dead.... if we don't want to look at those who are in their actual graves .. how about the walking dead... those with cancer and other unexplained deteriorative illnesses.. what is it that causes these and many other diseases? Who knows... but my money is on the untold multitude of chemical inputs to our bodies that we ingest through the foods we eat, the air we breathe and the water we drink and the drugs we take in, both on purpose and those in our food supply and water supply...
Think about it... "Ain't killed no one..." I say again.... it depends on how you measure dead!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Eat your Veggies!

My young assistant, Rebecca, and I have been having a big time putting up our bounty this year. We watch the squirrels in our neighborhood stocking up for the winter and feel like squirrels ourselves as we can and dry and freeze everything that we can't eat in the next few days.
Rebecca's been a great help in the kitchen. Her big responsibility, besides tasting, is washing the canning jars. Her little hands fit right into the jars. She scrubs them till they squeak and has developed her own system of soaking, scrubbing and rinsing. She checks for chips in the rims and has learned all about the importance of using sterile equipment. Enlisting our kids to help in these tasks is a great way to reinforce the "we're all in this together" and "we need to work as a team" lessons.
Rebecca feels such a great sense of satisfaction when we break into the canned foodstuff. Just this morning she had a bowl of our spiced applesauce with breakfast. And was ready to lick out the bowl she liked it so much! I sent her off to school filled with yummy healthy food and bursting with pride that she had helped make that applesauce. She taste tested throughout the process, decided what spices to add, stirred the pot and washed all of the jars.
Early this month, my friend Amanda and her 3 year old Emma took care of my garden for a week while my family took a trip to Alaska. We were chatting the other day and she told me that Emma had never been very interested in eating vegetables but while helping to pick cherry tomatoes, she discovered that she loved tomatoes. Sometimes the best way to get kids to eat something, is to involve them in the growing, picking and processing of our food.
So many children today (and adults) are so disconnected from the source of our food. For most people, food simply comes from the supermarket, so therein begins the disconnect in our society. But when we start asking about where our food comes from and how it is processed, when we start taking part in the process... that sense of pride that Rebecca carries with her is available to each and every one of us!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tomato Bounty!

I have honestly been SO busy keeping up with my tomato harvest and the demands of the garden that I have had no time to write!
My tomato plants are the most amazing ever. I have about 50 plants and an unknown number of varieties. I planted a mixture of Heirloom Tomato Seed from Gurney's this year, so a real variety of red tomatoes, cherry and mini tomatoes as well as yellow, orange and purple tomatoes!
The plants have been really prolific but are starting to wind down. One day in August I had a 40 pound harvest day! It has been amazing.
Canning has taken up a bunch of time and I have a cabinet full of canned tomato sauce to use through the winter.
My sweetie gave me a super dehydrator for my birthday in August.. so I am also drying cherry tomatoes and sheets of tomato paste! In the past I have cooked some tomatoes down for paste and frozen them in ice cube trays then transferred them to freezer bags. The cubes were then added to sauce as a thickener or soups for extra flavor. I never would have thought of drying the paste... but the dehydrator instructions suggested it and I really like the idea! The amount of room it takes up is dramatically diminished. And I am not storing water... the paste should work really well as a thickener!
I imagine that I will spend the winter catching up with posts!