Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

April 13, 2013

You are what you plant

(Continued)

I still have no idea what a mature, fruit-bearing avocado plant looks like, any more than today’s gourmet caffeine junkie would know what a percolator looks like. Still, I’ve gone from not knowing where my food comes from to knowing the names of the people who grow a lot of the vegetables and raise the animals that I eat. A friend with backyard chickens brings us eggs once a week and the yolks are a bright, sunny orange, not the pale yellow of most store-bought eggs.

I’d like to go on and on about how fabulously wonderful they taste, but once I’ve cooked them with ham and home fries, I can’t honestly say I can taste the difference between them and supermarket eggs.

The difference is that I know the chickens that laid these eggs. And they all have different personalities: curious, aloof, scared, bossy and every combination in between. When I stop by their house, some run away, some strut right up to me and some ignore me.

Just like their owners do when they see me.

It’s happened gradually over the years, but more and more of my friends seem to be producing more and more of their own food. Some keep bees, some make goat cheese, some bake bread, some raise sheep, some raise pigs, some make wine, some grow fruit, and Sue grows all kinds of herbs and vegetables. Eight different kinds of basil the last time I counted. She’ll trade some of her heirloom tomato plants with the baker for bread and with the beekeeper for honey. We don’t use much honey, so maybe we’ll trade that for a pound of bacon from the guy with the pigs.

Of course, we still shop for most of our food — it’s hard to grow bananas, wheat and coffee in the backyard — but once you know where things come from, you shop with different eyes. Where do they get tomatoes in April? We’ll use the ones we canned last summer. Garlic from China? I can plant a year’s worth in the backyard in 10 minutes. That asparagus at $3 a bunch? I could grow my own. I think I will.

(Contact Jim Mullen at JimMullenBooks.com.)

Text Only
Opinion
  • Keeping up with the Comcast call-center fiasco I’ve been intending for a while to write about the Comcast call-center fiasco, but it’s hard to keep up: the story just gets weirder and weirder. Following the now-viral recording of the telephone call in which a customer service representative essen

    August 21, 2014

  • System needed for choosing House In the original conception of our Constitution, the House of Representatives was to be the branch of government that best reflected the will of the people. House members cannot serve without being elected — vacancies are not filled by appointees — an

    August 21, 2014

  • Dems plead for more money I’ve been getting a lot of email from Democratic fundraisers lately. They seem very worried about November’s elections.First came the highly publicized “Impeachment Red Alert” campaign, in which the Democratic congressional committee warned that Repu

    August 21, 2014

  • Why Obama shouldn't go to Ferguson On Monday, ABC’s Ann Compton asked President Barack Obama whether he would visit Ferguson, Missouri, amid the continued unrest. Obama didn’t give a firm answer, but he did suggest it’s probably not a good idea.“When they’re conducting an investigatio

    August 20, 2014

  • Food stamps' $80B secret spending program Imagine a government program that has exploded in size, is the subject of bitter partisan haggling and spends almost $80 billion a year in secret.No, not the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency or the Department of Homeland Secu

    August 20, 2014

  • Vouchers provide greater choice I was chatting the other day with a fellow who, along with his wife, homeschool his children. We joked about the stereotype: Moms in denim skirts.But then he expounded on the benefits his youngsters have derived from being taught at home: a customize

    August 20, 2014

  • A rare experience Alexandra Petri’s editorial, “What exactly are we seeing in Ferguson” is well written and did something which has increasingly become a rare experience for me. Her article caused me to think!Petri makes the case for media coverage of American events,

    August 19, 2014

  • Naive? Simple? I will admit outright that I may be a little naïve and tend to look at things through a simple prism. I received a suggestion for a column with an accompanying article written by By Reed Abelson and Eric Lichtblau concerning the failure of our govern

    August 19, 2014

  • Don't pass 'coup clause' with a security waiver It is a sad reality that national security waivers often render human rights laws moot, inviting the government to overuse the loophole to accommodate immediate needs. The “coup clause,” which mandates foreign aid suspension to countries after a mili

    August 19, 2014

  • Clinton could end up like Gore Although we’re all still sort of pretending that it remains to be seen whether Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016, she recently gave the most definitive confirmation she has to date of her impending candidacy. No, she didn’t say the words

    August 16, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks