Thursday, November 8, 2007

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I have been reading Barbara Kingsolver's latest book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and boy am I in the mood for asparagus. Kingsolver's book recounts a year of her family's life in which they vow to eat only food that has been raised in their neighborhood or grown by them personally. If this passage doesn't make you want to eat a salad then I don't know what will:

In April I'm happiest with mud on the knees of my jeans, sitting down to the year's most intoxicating lunch: a plate of greens both crisp and still sun-warmed from thegarden, with a handful of walnuts and some crumbly goat cheese. This is the opening act of real live food.

And just FYI, she didn't pick up the goat cheese at the Whole Foods. She knows that goat. I love it. It's so crazy and extreme what Kingsolver does--picking up her family and moving cross-country to rural Virginia.. But is it so crazy? If you knew the journey that most of your food has taken to get to your plate you might just lose your appetite. It is completely ridiculous the amount of fuel we burn so that we can eat asparagus in December, or lettuce, or strawberries or tomatoes. I've never eaten asparagus straight from the garden, but to hear Kingsolver tell it, it is an ecstatic experience, one worth waiting for until spring comes again.

I really have an urge to grow something, but it seems unlikely in my townhouse with no yard and only a sliver of a balcony. I saw on Martha Stewart the other day that you can grow things in these cold frames all winter long. I would love to try something like that. Martha made it seem like it was really easy--just tap tap tap a few nails into place and you're done. I think it probably involves some sawing and some measuring (probably not in that order) and I am really bad at both of these things. These Chia Pet herb gardens seem like they might be more my speed. That's probably not what Barbara Kingsolver had in mind. The Chia Pet manufacturer does not exactly live in my neighborhood, but it would be a start.

We used to have a plot in a community garden when we lived in DC. It was our foray into gardening and we loved it. The first thing we grew that we were able to eat was a strawberry. One day the kids and I went to the garden and strawberries had magically appeared. We had to lift the leaves of the strawberry plant and look underneath to see them. I felt like I'd stumbled across someone else's birth, seeing those first little ripe berries. I picked the best strawberry--the only one not mushy from where it touched the dirt--carefully tucked it in my diaper bag and pushed my three babies home (Emma, Charlie and the strawberry) in the stroller. I presented it to Brandon on a paper towel when he got home. "Look," I said. "We made this." I ate half in one bite and he ate the rest. I think it will always be the best strawberry I have ever tasted.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A belated congratulations on the birth of that baby berry. And I am struck by how much weight we'd all lose if we only ate what we made. :)