Pardon me... It's late and I should be asleep, so I'm not really sure how coherent this post is.
Tonight on "The Colbert Report," Steven suggested that to solve the illegal alien problem and get them all to willingly leave the US, we build a waterpark (because "everyone loves waterparks!") and invite all of the illegals to go, but we don't tell them that while the top of the slides would be in San Diego, California, the pool at the bottom of the slides would be in Juarez, Mexico... I was amused...
He then asked who would then pick all of America's vegetables, since we obviously can't pick them ourselves, and replied to his own question that we shouldn't need anyone to do that because we're Americans and should be eating nothing but meat... ::shakes head:: Oh, Steven... so cleaver. (And, no, I'm not taking Steven seriously... I just find his satire very funny.)
Got me to thinking for a second though... Why on Earth *can't* Americans pick our own vegetables? ... Now, I *am* incredibly young and untried in the ways of the world, as they say, and I have a tendency to be naive when it comes to why my solutions to social problems "wouldn't really work" (as I've said before, usually for some nonsensical "grown-up" reason, imho... which most of the time I find to be total bs), but try to walk with me through this anyway...
In Plant City, after the strawberry farmers have the migrant workers come through picking strawberries in February, they open their fields for anyone who wants to come and pick their own strawberries round about this time of year... You can pick all you want, you just have to pay for them. Well, why couldn't people just do that in their localities for their own vegetables? I know it wouldn't be entirely practical (the commute time, the picking time, the dirt, the heat, the sweat... a lot of people probably would hate all that), but personally, I really *liked* picking strawberries and it was cheaper than buying them in the store (and they were the exact same strawberries!).
We'd go out to Plant City, drive around 'til we found a "Pick-Your-Own!" sign, and pick literally bushels of them when I was little, for hours and hours... We'd bring boxes, pots and pans with us, whatever we could find at home, and fill the whole trunk of the car with as many strawberries as we could manage. Mom would freeze some, make jam from some, and for about a week or so, strawberry shortcake would be everyone's dessert of choice. I didn't eat *any* of it... I don't like strawberries at all, but they sure were a lot of fun to pick! Going up and down the rows, finding little red gems hiding under leaves, my brother and I competing to see who could find the largest or pick the most in the shortest amount of time... Josh inevitably eating about half of what he picked and staining his face and clothes with berry juice.
I credit my love of gardening to those experiences and to helping my parents in our own vegetable garden at home when I was no more than 3, 4 or 5 years old. So if you have kids and don't have a home garden (or even if you do), taking them to a "Pick-Your-Own" field for an afternoon, no matter what the fruit or vegetable available, might just be one of the best things you could do for them to instill an appreciation for where the food they eat comes from while they are still young enough to be unconsciously impressionable on the subject. I don't know why so many parents these days seem to be afraid to give their small children any responsibility, like if they do, their children will no longer be children or won't be able to handle it... I don't know...
I love harvesting the veggies in my backyard! (Something, I'm sure people who read this blog have picked up on.) It's the best part about having a garden. And you can't get fresher or tastier vegetables than stuff you pick yourself, and if people came to the farmers directly, the farmers would be able to focus on the taste of the vegetables they grow, instead of how well they ship. It would be the next best thing to having one's own garden or going to a farmers' market and getting 'em there... Certainly, a thousand times better than buying vegetables imported from Mexico, Central and South America (which many are these days, check the labels in the produce section at your local grocery store)... You do know that their health and environmental regulations concerning pesticides and fertilizers are about a thousand times more lax than the ones imposed on US farmers, right? I don't buy anything at the grocery store from south of the Rio Grande because not only is it selling out US farmers, it's not as healthy to eat, even if it means having to buy frozen instead of fresh or not at all. For example, we wouldn't be having yellow squash with dinner tomorrow night if I didn't pick some out of the garden this afternoon. The only yellow squash at our Publix right now is imported from Mexico... No, thank you!
I think promoting the idea of buying only locally produced vegetables if at all possible is one of the best things we could do to discourage outsourcing the US food supply... And perhaps home gardens should be promoted as well, in the way that home gardening was promoted during World War 2. "Victory gardens"... but this time to beat the terrorists and the outsourcers or something like that... You know, if the "T"-word is mentioned, many idiots who would otherwise be against the idea would jump on the bandwagon.
Also, in a related story, a new grocery store has opened in Tampa. It's called "Wild Oats" and they sell only 100% natural foods with no added preservatives, artificial anything, high fructose corn syrup, hormones, antibiotics or other bad additives. It's like an Earth Faire, but with a different name and in Florida... It's located on North Dale Mabry Highway, just north of I-275. If you live in the Tampa area, I highly recommend checking it out.