My hands smell of basil and tomatoes. I just picked the first four Roma San Marzano tomatoes from our new garden. It’s all heirloom veggies this year. They are plump and red and pushing into the thick stem with a force that leaves grooves on their sides.
The basket is half-full of potatoes; they’ll be dinner and lunches. The potato berries are hanging bright green, round and tempting (do not, for they are toxic!) as I let my hands crawl deep in the dirt where the yellow and red tubers are. It’s pure reverence, seeking food and then cooking it. The simplicity of a meal cooked from the food you grow, no matter how small the crop… there is a mark left on your heart. It fills you up.
I pick a green taut pepper and fill my hands with more basil; purple. For a moment, I indulge in remembering my Dad’s hands handing me tomatoes and carrots to taste; the smell of summer nights when the sun drips honey-coloured warmth all over the horizon and the garden delivers promises; my Mom’s delicious light summer meals. Everything else peels off for a few brief moments and the plenitude of now is beyond rewarding.
I was to write a post about sugar and its ill presence, about candy bars that are wickedly awaiting by the checkout tills now in bigger packages. OK, maybe they have been around for a while and I just noticed them. Thanks to my Mom and that garden magic that started with strawberries, pears and red currants in the morning and ended with tomatoes and carrots and herbs of all kinds in the evening, I have a missing sweet tooth. But I did notice the bars this time. They were big and indecent.
The stats on obesity in North America (and beyond) are grim. 1 in 3 adults in Canada are obese and may require medical assistance to manage the symptoms. The many adverse health effects that obesity causes are daunting to think about. High blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular problems, arthritis, sleep apnea. Childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years though some recent study pointed out to a mild decrease between 2004 and 2014 (I believe mild cannot be a pacifier for the sizeable problem that childhood obesity has become.)
Where are we now? People indulge and lament at the same time, they eat and overeat because sugar does that to you. Portions grow, processed foods abound and sugar finds its way into almost everything…Sugar was never a true need but has become a want of gargantuan proportions. Meanwhile…the good food grows too. If we want it. In gardens, in pots, in farms from which we buy at the market…
Food we ferment so the good bugs in it can help our microbiome (the bacteria we carry inside and, on our bodies, a camaraderie that keeps us healthy.) I am experimenting with a new sourdough starter just for fun while a loaf is resting in the fridge for tomorrow’s baking. By the window there are summer pickles and pickled turnips (I know what you might think, but they really are so tasty!).
Hippocrates said that food should be our medicine. And yet… so much of it has become our enemy. Food is never supposed to make one sick; real food that is. Or obese. You eat as your body requires, you move and you celebrate both. Being alive comes with a need to eat, yes, but we need to rewrite the terms. Actually no… we need to remember them.
One tomato bite at a time. Or beans if you prefer. Or a new potato, cooked to perfection. This kind of indulgency never comes with fear, but with gratefulness.