Thursday, August 12, 2010

Give Me Your Ugly, Malformed and Unpretty Foods

On a normal weekend I will take Thing 1 to the farmer's market and then the grocery store (in that order) on Saturday morning while Thing 2 stays home with my DH and naps. It has become a nice time to spend some special time with Thing 1 and get him excited about eating fresh real food.

We always go to both markets and this week the Farmer's Market was again bursting with high summer goodness. Tomatoes and squash and eggplants, among others were all just waiting to be scooped up. When we arrived at the grocery store I noticed, there was not one ugly vegetable to be purchased. Even in the organic section, all the roma tomatoes were about the same size and perfect shape. The cucumbers were all the same color with no yellow 'ground spots' on one side. The broccoli were all tight and taut and the apples were all perfection. Not a worm hole in sight. The farmer's market on the other hand has food that looks like it was grown in the real world. Sometimes the carrots are forked in the middle. Some apples are different sizes than the others. Some broccoli buds are blown out on one side while the other side is tight and closed. The food at the farmer's market looks natural. And the flavor is more intense. The peaches taste sweeter, the carrots are sweet but also spicy-bitter like a root vegetable should be. The tomatoes taste the way everyone knows a tomato should taste. My grocery store is great. But the veggies all taste clean. The organic ones have more flavor for sure, but even they taste like supermarket veggies, and of course everything is so damn good looking.

The taste of farmer's market food to me is a big reason why I write about food. I don't care if something is crooked, spotted, bent, notched or twisted. If it is crisp and fresh, sweet and delicious, I will love it just fine.

I encourage you to embrace ugly food. A generation ago Joni Mitchel sang "Farmer, Farmer put away your DDT. I don't care about spots on my apples, leave me the birds and the bees." Today the debate is still about what chemicals are finding their way into our food supply in the name of beautiful food. But it is also about the food experience of which we are being robbed. Conventional produce just doesn't taste the same as it did two generations ago. Perhaps there never was a golden veggie era that I imagine that there was. Many decades ago grocery stores were really just dry goods stores and you still bought all your fruits and veggies from open air temporary markets. I still think farmer's markets are the answer for an urban population. There are now over 6000 farmer's markets across the US and that is on the rise. I pray that one day everyone has both access to a farmer's market and the desire to shop there for fresh food. And then in between today and that day, perhaps the next step is growing your own garden like people did so many years ago. However for those of us whose plot line ends at the front door with no yard of any kind to speak of, we will still rely on others to grow food for us. I will buy from real people who grow real food. Ugly or not.

1 comment:

  1. woohoo for ugly food! You should see our carrots...forked and furry (I'm thinking my soil is still too coarse)!