Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Heirlooms are hawt and basil is beautiful

I think these tomatoes are gorgeous.

I'm turning into my mother.

It's almost spring in Southern CA and I have decided I want a garden. And simultaneously, I want to learn how to cook. Healthy, well-rounded, delicious meals.

While these are sensible ambitions that reflect maturity, I have to laugh at myself because I am very much my mother's daughter. Having second thoughts about my snacks due to a lack of trust in additives that I can't pronounce makes me feel old.

So, you would think that learning to cook and starting a garden is uncontroversial; the sort of resolution that causes adults to smile and pat me on the back. Well, I live with one "adult" who is very possessive of her kitchen, yard, and hobbies. "J" has so far refused to lend me any spot of soil in the backyard. We have a pig. The backyard looks like we have a pig. We have a graveyard where all past pets have been buried. Nevertheless, she has deemed me only worthy of a tiny corner "that doesn't get stepped on because it's too difficult to squeeze between the motor home and the gate." Sounds promising.

I'm starting slow since this will be a busy semester for me and I'm not much of a plant owner. Some of us remember Fernando the fern's quick demise and no one is quite sure what happened to Max, the incredibly tall cactus who I found, rescued, and then lost. So, I'm going to just plant a little basil. I'm very excited.

I've been reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. Everyone is sick of me talking about this book, so I'll limit my commentary to this: it's fascinating. I may be getting paranoid, but it seems to me that the near-monopoly, big box, corporations with government ties are ruling every industry. Like Clear-Channel in the music industry, Montesanto is reigning over the seeds of the country. Such small things, but seeds are where food starts and Montesanto has created seeds that self-destruct or something so they aren't sustainable. If I understood correctly, farmers used to (and sometimes still do) use the seeds from one year's crop to plant the following year's crop. Montesanto has made it nearly impossible to do this so that farmers consistently have to buy from them. They've also cut the number of varieties available by (I have no idea) A LOT. This may not seem like a big deal but our country is all about options and a lot of good food is disappearing like the Dodo birds. Seeds - varieties of fruits and veggies - are becoming extinct!

Food, Inc. is a documentary on this topic. I haven't seen it yet but it looks good in that depressing newsy way of things it was easier off not knowing, but should still be known.

"There are no seasons in the American supermarket."
Strange but true. While it's awesome that we can get whatever we want whenever we want, it's weird that I have to think hard (and sometimes look up) what is in season. Food that's in season is better, cheaper, and more likely from the U.S.

Not to be super crunchy, but whether or not you "believe" in global warming, I think we can agree that transporting food from South America or further causes a lot of pollution which is bad for our health at the very least. Also, fruits and veggies aren't ripe when they are picked and the ways they get them to ripen during transport are a bit scary.

Sorry for the pedantic veggie sermon. I love a good cause.

Anyone want to hit up the farmer's market with me? The Santa Monica Promenade market is always good for celebrity spotting...


Smoxie said...

I, too, would like to be a cook and gardener. I feel like they, along with paying your cell phone bill and knowing which way to lay down the top sheet when making a bed, are crucial steps to becoming an adult.

Also, I love heirloom tomatoes as well, and have heard that they exist to keep various tomato strains alive should one or several of the more common ones go completely extinct. So cool.

Aundrea said...

I was so into gardening when I lived in Idaho....Here I just don't have enough space to do it the way I did there and it's depressing, but I shop at farmers' markets and an organic farm near us when possible. I do like to cook. Good thing because this year I've had to make everything from scratch to follow the diet I'm on. The home made yogurt and home made mayonnaise is amazing. I'm glad I learned how to do it. I need to read that Barbara Kingsolver book.