Wednesday, August 03, 2005

what is to be done?

Special James Hetfield/Martha Stewart birthday edition

Many people appear to have been irritated by Julie Powell's "arguments" the other day, and if I had time to follow the internets I'm sure I'd find further interesting debate. But the best reaction I've seen so far is my correspondent Marty's report from the real world:

Where I live (a town of about 2000 in a rural area of northern Indiana) there's a long tradition of what used to be called 'truck farming'. The area still produces lots of nice blueberries, some commercial tomatoes and a few strawberries, but most of the truck farms have gone the way of the dodo and been replaced by the 'corn and soybeans and a govt. check' model of agriculture.

One truck farm that still survives was founded by a Japanese gentleman named Sakaguchi in the 1930s. They started out by specializing in growing east Asian vegetables for sale in Chicago. Growing up in the 1960s I remember seeing their odd looking produce and wondering what it was. Sometimes the oriental cabbages would stand out green against an early November snowfall. That seemed really weird and a little tantalizing.

When I moved back here (long story) about twenty-five years ago, I had developed an interest in cooking with those kinds of vegetables, but you couldn't /buy/ any of their stuff locally. Driving down a quiet country road I was sometimes tempted to pull over, run out in the field, and abscond with handful of produce.

This year the granddaughter of the founder of what is now called (seriously, I kid you not) 'Green Acre Farms' finally made their produce available locally by starting a CSA. The cost is $20.00 per week. That hardly seems elitist. My wife says she thinks we're probably saving money; I'm not sure, but it's really enough for three or four people so that's less than $10.00 per person per week.

For that we get a wide variety of organically grown vegetables (Green Acres Farms claims they grow a couple of hundred of varieties of vegetables). There's no shopping involved, in fact shopping time during the week is significantly reduced. There's no shipping of vegetables, we buy them right at the barn where they are packed. There is some use of migrant labor, so I guess you can criticize that part, though it makes some sense given the seasonal nature of the work and our long, cold winters. There's no doubt I'm eating more vegetables, because they're more interesting and once you pick them up you feel like you should use them. Also, we try stuff we'd have skipped over because you get what they give you.

Generally, I like living in the country, but one of the hardest parts was the limited and often dreary selection of foods available. This CSA opens a new market for the farmer (not that it would support them without the Chicago market) and is a big improvement in my life too. If not for the supposedly yuppie food thing, I doubt that it would have happened. But brother, there ain't no yuppies in these here parts!

Further evidence of CSA's efficacy in the revolutionary vanguard may be found in today's Chron.

Other: proscuitto omogeneizzato per i bambini; the Catholic Church is AWESOME.

Which brings us to our final juvenile Ray Pettibon amusement: It's no Two women beat off would-be rapist, but the Chron gives good hed too.


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