I had kind of a bizarre day today–one where I felt like I occupied two different worlds.
For the first half of the day, I was in “THE TOWNS”, as the hubster and I call pretty much anything that isn’t home or farm country. I had to go the the DMV and DEQ and the grocery store for a few things. So naturally I was thinking about the way things are–about systems, infrastructure, rules and regulations, bureaucracy. But, since it’s full on spring around here, I was also thinking about food and plants and the way mother nature is in that frenzy of explosive growth she always gets in to this time of year.
I was reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle while I waited my turn at the DMV. (Side note–everyone at the DMV was sort of absurdly friendly. A totally pleasant surprise! And my driver’s license picture turned out good. That was REALLY a surprise. Anyway . . .) I’m sure that contributed to the way I sort of have gardens and farming on the brain right now.
And as I drove around on my errands, I was looking at all the space everywhere that’s just covered in manicured grass, or in awful looking barkdust with a few very depressed looking shrubs scattered here and there. And I was imagining how cool it would be if those spaces were full of fruit trees and bushes, or other varieties of edible landscaping. Or even herbs and native plants, instead of chemlawn.
At the grocery store I was thinking about where my food comes from. I bought soup, 2 kinds of cheese, butter, bread, tortillas, onions, and potatoes–all from Oregon. But I bought two cans of green chilies, to make enchilada sauce, and I couldn’t find on the can where the chilies came from. But there was a phone number for customer service: I decided to buy them, and call and ask when I got home. I was told, very apologetically, by the woman on the phone that she couldn’t tell me that because it was proprietary information. I told her I just wanted to find out if they were grown in California, where the company resides; she told me she couldn’t say, but that she would ask someone if she could give me that information. And it kind of freaked me out; it’s a vegetable. The country it’s grown in is top secret? What’s THAT about? I mean, I wasn’t asking for their secret ingredient, or the home address of their president; I just want to know what country the vegetables grow in. I think I got a little more worked up than I should have, and I also think I shouldn’t have been so surprised.
I also think I won’t be buying canned green chilies anymore unless I know where they came from. Which means I’ll probably be canning my own, with chilies from the farmer’s market (we can’t seem to grow peppers with any kind of kick around here: I think it just doesn’t get hot enough). The thing is, we’ve made a pretty local diet for ourselves. I know where most of my food was grown, even if I don’t know the farmer’s who grew it. So I forget, a lot of the time, how that’s not the case for most people. After the disturbing conversation, and a little time venting to my Facebook friends, I went outside and pulled weeds and shoveled some compost. I watched some little birds–and then giggled like a pre-teen when they started mating right in front of me.
I was hungry while I was working, and I was right next to this:
An entire raised bed full of miners lettuce, with some dandelions and deadnettle mixed in. I stopped, took off my gloves, and started munching on miners lettuce leaves and dandelion blossoms. I tasted the purple deadnettle blossoms too–very sweet, but so tiny that I didn’t bother with many of them. And I was thinking: why does this feel like a radical act?
It’s not a radical act. It’s a basic act, central to survival. See food: eat it. And yet, you tell people they can eat their weeds, they look at you like you’re insane, and then go buy food whose origin they can’t even find out about if they WANT to. And y’all know, the food manufacturers want it that way. Pesky consumers start asking questions, getting laws changed, interrupting the way things are, and the corporations will start losing money. Especially if people get fed up with all the nonsense and start growing their own food or buying from local farmers! We can’t have that!
My life is seditious, y’all. You had no idea, did you? I sure didn’t.
So what about you: where does your food come from? Can you identify wild edible food near you? Do you grow any food of your own? Do you buy any of your food from the local farmer’s market, or a farm or CSA? How many miles does your average meal travel? Can you even guess? Wanna be a seditionist with me? Start asking questions, and let me know what you find out.