Fri, 2015-03-20 05:00 News Staff
I have recently d iscovered food. Just to clarify, I am a city girl. Food has always been the stuff we buy at the grocery store or in a restaurant. I never questioned its taste or its validity as real food. The stuff set in front of me was edible, because somebody said it was edible. There was little relation, for me, between the piles on my plate and the cute farm animals at the petting zoo, or the earthy green sprouts growing in rows in somebody’s garden. Until recently. Now that I’m a rugged country girl with a dozen chickens, I’ve discovered what eggs are supposed to taste like. And man, oh man! They sure taste different from the ones in the dairy section. Which, by the way, always confused me, because dairy comes from cows, not chickens. Even a city girl like me knew that. But I digress. In addition to fresh eggs each day, I live near an organic dairy. They have a little shop where they sell milk and yogurt and dozens of kinds of cheese, and oh, my heavens. I never knew yogurt was supposed to taste like that. Plus, everybody I know around here has some sort of garden, and they share. And the sheer deliciousness of garden-fresh veggies has inspired me to grow my own garden this year. Superman has already tilled me out a corner of the hill (you didn’t know hills had corners, did you?) So far, I’ve planted onions and snow peas and radishes and spinach. Next up is carrots, cilantro and cucumbers, and in April I’ll plant green beans, okra, and squash. And somewhere in there I’ll add tomatoes and strawberries. This article is making me hungry. But it also makes me a little sad, and a little mad, because of all the years of deliciousness I missed, simply because I didn’t know the difference between organic and non-organic. Now I’m learning. One of the things that struck me most about organic vs. non-organic foods is that many times, substances are fed to or sprayed on our food to make them look prettier in the grocery store. Who wouldn’t want the big, shiny red apples as opposed to the smaller, misshapen organic ones? And when shopping for beef, of course our eyes will land on the brightest red meat in the package. But just because something looks prettier doesn’t mean it’s better. Take my chickens, for example. They are precious. They’re the little cochin bantams, red-and-black-andwhite spotted, with feathers on their feet. They look like they’re wearing boots! They’re the purdiest lil’ things . . . but they’re little. And their eggs are tiny. Seriously, compared to the eggs you’d buy in the store, it’s two- for-one. But oh. My. Word. Those eggs have such a rich texture and striking flavor. I never knew what I was missing. Recently, when I ate eggs at a restaurant, I almost had to send them back. They were tasteless, compared to the little nuggets my girls produce. Be honest, though. If you were faced with buying great, big, fat, round eggs versus scrawny little barely- fill-up-the-carton-hole eggs, which would you choose? Yeah. Nonorganic foods are often given steroids and other additives, to make them produce more. Chickens are injected with stuff to make them plumper, or make them lay unnatural amounts of eggs. Vegetables are sprayed with chemicals to make them bigger, because after all, we pay by the pound. Why has so much value been given to quantity and aesthetics, at the expense of quality and flavor? I don’t know the answer. But when I really think about it, I think our food is a byproduct of a bigger problem. Honestly, we apply the same principles to people. We value outer beauty over inner flavor. We value assembly- line productivity over creativity and originality. Many of us will spend more time grooming our cuticles than grooming our character. We’ll put forth great effort to get a lot done, instead of doing little bit, really well. And we’ll be applauded for it. Now let me be perfectly clear about something: I’m not accusing anyone, other than myself. I’ve spent too much of my life trying to look pretty on the outside and not nearly enough time trying to be kind and wise and beautiful in spirit. I’ve wasted too much energy trying to be good at a lot of things, instead of developing the few things I excel at. From now on, I’m going to try to be more organic. I will embrace my less than perfect leaves and misshapen form. I will stop worrying about all the people who are better-looking or better-qualified than I am to do whatever it is they do, and focus on being the truest, most genuine Renae I can be, with the best possible flavor. That includes showing kindness. Compassion. Acceptance. Encouragement. It includes loving the people around me so well, with such a God-like love, that they’ll stop and say Oh. My. Word. That’s good stuff. But just to keep it real, I still plan to check out all the cool new organic beauty products on the market . . . “In the day you will make your plant to grow, and in the morning you will make your seed to flourish,” Isaiah 17:11.