Wild vs Tame

2016-09-16

Wild grapes are growing in the field behind my condo.  I was a little hesitant to eat one, but they weren't bad - kind of  sour with big  crunchy seeds.

Nothing like the grocery store variety which are huge and come in a plastic bag..

book cover: the american way of eating

The contrast was even more apparent since I just finiished reading this book, "The American Way of Eating, which included an eye--popping account of life in the California produce fields.

I learned that those perfect little bunches of grapes didn't just get there by themselves. They were picked by real people crouching in the heat, plucking each bunch from enormous rows of vines somewhere far away.

As a grocery store customer, the produce aisle just is. The overhead lights and the piped in music and neat stacks of fruit are so familiar that I never even thought about how it all got there.. Grapes were just another product, always found in one spot, tight bunches tucked into plastic bags.

But this book gave me a peek behind the scenes.   And I was bothered that our produce is picked by migrant laborers and transported great distances, when so much could be grown nearby in our own fields and yards.

I wondered why it  food is supposed to only come from the grocery store? Why yards are just ornamental. The apple and pear trees in the neighborhood are designed to look pretty and not produce any fruit.

It's as if food production is so messy and unpleasant that we keep it segregated to "farm land" or "orchards" where it won't ruin the landscape. The yard is a food desert. Yet here is a corner  where food  has sneaked in and I can sneak out and gather it!

The wild grapes are not very sweet, but they grow by themselves. They are not just for me either. Birds have been eating them too.  If I want to eat them, I have to pick them myself.

A friend who is a chef said he he was familiar with foraging, but that most people prefer that it come in a package. I say they don't know what they are missing.

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