The bananas are from Central America, the tomatoes are from my garden, the squash is locally grown, and the oranges are from South Africa. The bananas are shipped green and ripen en route and require an entire industrial system of farmers, freighters, packers, truckers, handlers. The oranges came in a large box at Costco and were purchased for a ridiculously low price of 8 dollars and passed through as many hands. The acorn squash cost about 2 bucks and was labelled “local” at the local Dahl’s supermarket. The cost of the tomatoes is debatable. I shook out 4 seeds from a packet purchased four years ago, and germinated them in a small prepacked squib of peat. They grew to about 10 inches in a pot on the deck, and were transplanted to a side garden that I’ve used off and on. The rain and the soil and the intense Iowa summer grew a nice tomato patch that was good for fresh tomatoes from August to October. These represent a pailful of green ones that have ripened on the counter and are being consumed slowly and with savor.
It begs the question of what we pay and subsidize as a society to get ripe fruit all year round, to get New Zealand apples in the winter, to eat watermelon when it’s clearly out of season, and the fruit is all very cheap when compared to inflation indices. The tomatoes are irregular, and some are frankly ugly, but exquisitely delicious when drizzled with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and served with fresh onions and basil (from garden), topped with a dash of salt and pepper. The bananas are okay when they turn dalmatian, but people who grew up with fresh bananas will tell you that the ones you get at the grocery have all the appeal of mashed potatoes. The oranges are passable and industrial, nothing like the hand picked ones I grew up with in Florida. Acorn squash is deciding if it is decoration or food.
So what is it with today’s post? It has to do with anything else we do -expedience versus slow attention to detail, organic versus “brand organic.” It’s the golf game bought at a 5000 dollar golf school versus one built over decades of misery punctuated by moments of glory. It’s the handwritten letter compared to a text message. It’s a car that you restore yourself versus one that you buy at the classic car/mod shop.
All of the above store bought items are “organic.” I can tell you the tomatoes in this context are priceless, but I’ll give you one for free. Maybe trade you a bucket for a haircut.