Monday, August 15, 2011
Little kids I’ve yet to have
Another two-in-the-morning post. 1:29 am, to be exact. Schafe is under my feet, on the heater. He got a bath today, and some dewormer—maybe he’ll make it through another winter. In other news, we found blight on our tomatoes yesterday, and tore up three of every four plants.
It was heartbreaking. Cliché, perhaps, but I don’t know how else to describe it. I felt nausea, physical pain in my chest, staring at the plants that I’ve cultivated so meticulously for the last three months. Smelling that foliage scent on my fingers, that tomato smell that’s maybe my favorite in the world, that I wish could bottle. Smelling my fingers as I watch the pile of destroyed plants.
I had that much emotion for a first-time garden, one that’s little more than a hobby, probably twelve plants in all. I can’t imagine how a farmer feels, watching his entire crop destroyed, plant after plant, in an irresistible tide. The blight up here, “Late Blight,” is the same stuff that wiped out all of the Irish potatoes in the Great Potato Famine. It’s common only among potatoes and tomatoes, and endemic in the United State mainly in places where there are large commercial potato growers. Large-scale farmers can use fungicides and sprayers to protect their crops, but it’s basically a lost cause for home gardeners, unless tomato plants are meticulously treated with a copper spray every week before onset of the blight. All information based on hearsay, Google, and our local cooperative extension.
The crazy thing? Tonight Food Inc. was the documentary of choice on PBS. I resisted watching it until now—shots of deformed cows unable to walk to the slaughter is something I have a hard time stomaching. And I’m someone who eats burger. Despite the relentless exposure of our system’s ills, the documentary made some optimistic points. The filmmakers actually believe we can make better choices, that we can influence corporations by what we demand, by the choices we make with our dollars.
The danger of pulling back the curtain on our food production is that it can make me feel hopeless, and go to the fridge for another frozen pizza, some more ice cream, or a bowl of chips to forget about the pain. I’m bad about emotional eating—and it’s almost perverse the way I turn to food when I feel bad about food. Even if I know, beyond doubt, that fresh peas with butter taste better than chips. And I can grow them, and maybe even raise my own dairy someday.
It’s not the easy choice. It’s the more honest choice. It means work, and pain, and heartbreak. It takes sweat, and hailstorms, and beetles. And blight.