Disrespect for Real Food

Perfectly good home-grown squashes in the dumpster. Why would someone put squash in the garbage instead of sharing with others who might want or need this wonderful food?

One of the biggest problems in our society right now is a disregard and disrespect for real food, food that grows from the ground and has to be prepared by our own effort. This due to the ubiquitous availability, for the most part (in the USA), of food, any kind of food, mostly processed food and instafood (mixes, premades, precooked, etc.), but also cosmetically perfect foods raised with chemicals to make them so.

The I see examples of disrespect for real food literally in my own backyard.

Wenham Gold appleI live in a housing development for seniors and the disabled (I am the latter). We are extremely fortunate to have community gardens in the field beyond the last building. Within the community gardens are two old apple trees that were once cared for and produce marvelous apples. Because I don’t know if they are a named variety, I call then Wenham Gold.

Wenham Golds are a yellow-skinned apple, with a delicious taste, good keeping qualities, and a slightly mealy quality when fully ripe. They are excellent for both cooking and eating out-of-hand. They are remarkably insect-free, perhaps because they grow in gardens that attract predators of the invasive apple insects (you know the ones–bite into an apple and there is a worm–ewwww!).

The apple trees produced a bumper crop this year, drifts of apples on the ground, and apples falling from the tree for 2 months. The last apple just fell within the last couple days.

pile of applesNo one from my development showed any interest in these fabulous apples. I am the only one who tried to make inroads into the bounty. Everyone else ignored the gift from Gaia. Yes, the apples are not smooth and shiny; yes, some have bad spots that need cutting away. But overall they are as good any apple you will pay for, and they’re free! And even more importantly, free of unhealthy chemicals. But ignored, loved only by me and the occasional squirrel or raccoon.

Another example that just floored me was the neighbor who threw eleven butternut squashes into the dumpster. She had raised them herself, tending the plants all summer. At the end of the season they sat in a pile in her garden bed. I refrained from taking any, assuming she was saving them for herself.

Then one day I put trash in the communal dumpster and happened to look in (you would be amazed at what people throw out). There were the squashes! We have a community center where residents leave items they don’t want, and share surplus veggies and groceries. The squashes didn’t come into the center to be shared with the residents, they went into the trash! Fortunately for me, when I did my first dumpster dive ever to liberate the squash, there was a quantity of grass to step onto, and a neighbor to hold the squash and give me a hand out.

When we, as a society, have so much perfect-looking, ready-made food so readily available, we forget what a gift real food, grown from living soil and prepared with our own hands, is. We go for the cosmetically perfect produce grown with pesticides and herbicides (chemicals that kill the natural world, and eventually us humans). We go for the food already prepared for us, even though it is full of synthetic chemicals for taste, texture, and appearance, because it is easy and seems to taste good. We ignore or aren’t aware of the fact that this food nourishes neither our body or our spirit.

It is time to start respecting real food. You can start by choosing and eating real food in your home and workplace. Show other people by your example how valuable real food is and how to treat it with respect.