We planted a small garden this year: cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries, lettuce, onions, shallots, beans, and numerous peppers. Last year we just planted tomatoes. Just tomatoes. Every year I am certain that we will be unsuccessful in the garden and that there is no point even trying.
I see others posting online all of their crops. My tomatoes are still green. Taking their time and making me nervous.
But I love to go to the Farmer’s Market and grab things I can’t grow or forge. (We have blackberries and raspberries that have been on this farm for years–we never planted them but we get to profit off of someone else’s hard work.)
Today I came across these peaches. Now, I hate peaches. I would not eat them. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t can them! You never know when a recipe will call for them or a chutney dish would be even better with them. Plus, R tends to eat a lot. He would probably eat these.
I am always up for canning, freezing, and drying anything. I am famous for getting everything all set, boiling the canner, only to check the recipe and find that I am short on an ingredient. And since it takes my canner almost an hour to get to boiling, this always annoys me. Have I learned my lesson? No. Today I was short one cup of sugar and had to make the 20 minute drive to a grocery store.
Food is expensive.
I have worked in grocery stores for 14 years (I’m 28 by the way), and I always roll my eyes when I hear customers complain.
“Why don’t you have tomatoes?”
“Because it’s February.”
Having a garden and the ability to grow and produce our own food seems crazy, but one hundred years ago, literally everyone was doing it. I’ve started to save seeds as well, because seeds are expensive! Guys, all the things are expensive. Life is expensive.
I think of it like this: someone had to harvest the seed, grow the seedling, plant it, grow it, harvest it, ship it to a factory, make it into a product, package it, ship it to a warehouse, ship it to a grocery store, and than you buy it. Yeah, of course it should be expensive.
I am someone who focuses on the food I eat because it is my medicine. I haven’t had the flu in years. I have my own remedies and eat as clean and local as possible. I am someone who actually reads the label and asks, “Why so much sugar? And what the heck is that ingredient?!”
I don’t mean to go all Wendell Barry on everyone, but maybe we have to think outside of ourselves and how everyone and every thing is connected.
I’ve lived in New York City. I know what it’s like to have a hefty grocery bill. But I understood why. So now, I’m glad that I have the opportunity to try to grow my own food and provide for myself.
Our food system is so broken. And sadly, it probably won’t get fixed because the solution is for many people to become small farmers. For every American to have a garden or chickens in the backyard. I don’t see that happening in many places. But it is hilarious and cute to imagine.
I worry a lot about the state of the agricultural movement. I worry about big factory farms. I am upset with animal abuse, chemical misuse, and unfair wages.
As I am canning my peaches, I think back to just a few years ago. I was living in Brooklyn and I would be in awe of the cheap prices in Trader Joe’s. How amazing! And now I think, how awful! Those poor farmers. What are they getting paid if I am paying $2 for green beans in the heart of the city?