My Life with Food – Part TwoPosted on April 12, 2020 by Jack
I think we owe a good deal of our identities to the foods we eat – the ones permanently etched in our memories.
For me, much of my identity can be traced to my first attempt at planting a garden. I was probably 11 or 12 years old when I was allowed to stick my hands in the chocolate-brown earth without incurring a harsh rebuke from my mother. I eagerly awaited getting home from school so I could carefully water my patch of the yard. For days, I would gently move away a bit of topsoil to see if any of the seeds I planted had sprung into action. I felt a great sense of pride when I saw the first sign of life – a tiny bit of green pushing its way through the earth and into the sunlight. And when that day finally arrived, I harvested my first carrots and radishes.
I ate all four carrots and both radishes right there at the edge of my garden. My private salad was incredible. The taste of the sun was still in the vegetables. The crunch of the slightly immature carrots tested the strength of my new permanent teeth. The radishes were sweet – and I didn’t expect that. I savored every second of my afternoon feast and I couldn’t wait to unearth more of my garden’s goodies the next day.
My fist garden memory has stayed with me my entire life. I think about that initial growing experience each time I eat a raw carrot or radish and measure the taste against my memory of growing a perfect vegetable. Whenever I plunge my hands into the dirt of my current garden, I feel a sense of connection to my past, to the earth and sun, to my food and the natural cycle of seasons.
Growing a garden was good for my soul…and much more.
Gardening reminds me that the interconnectedness of all living things means a healthy environment…an environment that produces a healthy soil…healthy soil that reflects my own health.
Gardening helps me understand the importance of seasons. I am reminded that food grows in both place and time…and something grown close to where I live and in its proper season will have the best flavor and nutritional content. There is a profound difference – from my experience – between asparagus picked days or weeks ago and thousands of kilometers away before it endures a long journey through warehouses to reach a supermarket shelf…versus ones harvested the same morning I bought them at the local farmer’s market.
I’d rather eat what is grown nearby and wait – however long – until each fruit’s and vegetable’s proper season rolls along, and when the flavor peaks. It makes my job of cooking much easier.
Recipe in Photo: Roasted Carrots