Saturday, April 23, 2011

Me as the eagle

Bean sprouts

On the boat, I had some of the same struggles that I’m having here in Aroostook County. There are some odd similarities between eking out an existence in the frozen north and on a deserted beach. The temperature is different, but in many ways, the landscape is the same. I even had a dream about it when I first arrived, imagining a windswept beach, with sand the color of snow.

One thing is the difficult of eating healthily without fresh things. It’s one of these ironies of our modern existence. All we seem to be able to talk about is health and wellness, and the way we can maintain the strength and youth of our bodies, at the same time as the health of the earth. But what if those things are mutually incompatible? Isn’t Earth Day today? I’m realizing how incompatible our desire for fresh fruit and vegetables is with any kind of connection to the earth’s natural rhythm.

I’m Greek by descent, and the so-called Mediterranean diet is my favorite—there’s little better in the world than sun-warmed tomatoes, fresh basil, and sliced feta drizzled with olive oil. Up here, far from the equatorial sun, you’re lucky if you can get kale to grow by July. So what do you eat in the winter? Potatoes. Moose. More potatoes. All of the things the television tells me are no longer “healthy.”

The produce department gets by only with the help of massive amounts of fossil fuels. When we talk about the developing world wanting the luxuries that we have, what they want are salads, grapes, strawberries. I don’t think it’s a conundrum we can solve. I’m trying to find that balance between what will bring my human body health and what will bring the earth health, and I don’t think it’s to be found in organic sprouted-wheat bread shipped from Australia, nor found in endless quantities of deer jerky.

My lettuce seedlings are nascent in the glass room/greenhouse, and I’m learning to sprout beans and sunflower seeds, to at least get some freshness in my diet. But I can’t resist the romaine lettuce or the mealy hothouse tomatoes at the grocery store, either. Nor can the rest of America, which is the reason for the climate fix we’re in now. Eat more foraged fungi, people. I suppose it’s the best we can do.

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