Thursday, June 20, 2013

Crime Against Nature

At this time of the year, apple growers around here are out of fruit.

Conventionally-grown apples are at the top of every list of foods you should not eat, so today at the grocery store I bought four organic apples.  They were not cheap, and they probably came from out West somewhere, but at least I thought I was doing the right thing--safeguarding our health and supporting organic growers, wherever they might be.

Back in my kitchen, imagine my surprise when, about to take a bite of my apple, I noticed the little sticker on it.  It said:  Argentina.  My apple had traveled ten thousand miles from Argentina to Vermont.

From the orchard it had gone by truck to the farm house, then by another truck to the packing plant, and finally another truck to the airport, where it had been put on a plane.  It had flown over the dwindling Amazon jungle, over the Caribbean where the coral is dying, and then over endless  American suburbs to finally land in Albany, NY.  From there more trucks had taken it  through the farm country of Washington County to our supermarket near the border with Vermont.  Its last trip was in our gray Subaru.

I ate the apple anyway.  It was delicious, sweet and crisp, as good as the ones I grow myself.  But was it really worth all those trucks, and that ten-thousand mile flight?

Here I was, trying to do the right thing and ended up committing a crime against Nature.  I hope She understands that my intentions were pure.



6 comments :

  1. You also gave a struggling farmer s chance to grow honest food for a fair price, don't forget that. It is a global market even for the fair trade industry.

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    1. True. I feel o.k. about buying fair trade organic coffee from faraway places, but I'm thinking I should have looked at the label on those apples before I bought them.

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  2. My rule is this: 1. eat local organic whenever possible. 2. If 1 is not possible, eat stateside organic or local conventional (depending on the item, essentially). 3. If 2 is not an option, consider stateside conventional or international organic but really think whether I need that item (some, of course, I buy: bananas, for instance, don't grow in Missouri).

    I don't buy international conventional produce at all. And I really truly try to eat within 100 miles of my house (my CSA makes that almost a reality).

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    1. If this kind of awareness spreads, there is room for hope.

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  3. I think one of the questions is how willing are you to eat seasonally? Before trans-hemispheric travel made year round produce feasible, we ate fresh produce in season and preserved produce the rest of the year. I know you do that a lot from your own garden (and it doesn't get any more local than that).

    I actually prefer eating seasonal fruit. I don't want watermelon for Christmas, strawberries in autumn, or pumpkin pie for 4th of July. Anticipation heightens my enjoyment. The savor of each in its season marks the passage of the year for me, and I seem to crave each in its turn. Long, hot days of summer call out for fresh corn and watermelon and dead-ripe apricots. The smell of dry, autumn leaves makes me crave apples and pineapple guava. Artichokes mean that spring is really here. Frosty nights are time for cranberries, butternut squash, and tangerines. I enjoy the progression of fruits and vegetables the same way I enjoy the cycles of the seasons.

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  4. So beautifully expressed, Whaledancer.

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