Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Exploration Mandate

In my last entry I told you all about the joys of experimenting with new vegetables. Not the coolest thing I have ever been excited about, you don’t need to be told, I am sure. But I am not the only one who thinks these things. I am not talking about Devin either. I get regular emails from a magazine in the National Geographic family of magazines called The Green Guide. One of their featured articles yesterday was about enjoying the seasonal foods of your local farmers market. I was thrilled to see the first sentence of the entire article was, “Exploring unfamiliar varieties of favorite fruits and vegetables is a delight.” I was glad that I could sympathize with the author. Especially since he mentioned fruits as well as vegetables because it sets me up to share this anecdote I would normally have no reason to write about…

Some of you may be aware that Devin and I spend a disproportionate amount of our time in Minnesota at our favorite grocery store when everyone else has gone to bed. When our friend Danielle is with us she is equally thrilled to browse the exceptional selections of the store with us. One night a few summers ago the three of us decided to buy all the crazy little foreign fruits they sold. Things like Feijoas (pronounced Fie-shwa as far as we are concerned, and always with a breathy inquisitive tone of voice) They really were not that good. I think they are not meant to be eaten plain. This story has no point, so I will tack this semi-relevant rant on for you to give it some depth:

Food is exciting. One theme of this blog is that the food we eat is both a major part of our lives and of our social structures. The ramifications of what you eat are bigger than you likely care to know. Buying imported tropical fruit is not the solution to any of our problems, but pulling yourself out of a pattern of food buying you have held for a long time can make you aware of new things. To roughly recall a statistic I heard last year, the average food item Americans eat has traveled over 1000 miles since it was in its natural state. Floridians have grocery stores full of Michigan apples and Michiganders have grocery stores full of Florida apples. Why don’t we just eat our own apples? I am sure there is some economic principle driving it, but I am pretty sure that principle does not take into account the sustainability of such apple vending practices. Unless you live in Greenland, there is probably a farmer down the highway who would love to feed you his crop. If you DO live in Greenland, I don’t even know where your food comes from or how you heard about this blog. Please leave a comment so I known you are out there.

Speaking of which, Devin revealed something else very important to us in his last entry: your comments. Honestly, the reason Devin and I squabble about who writes better blog entries (*cough*Ido*cough*) is because Devin gets more comments than I do on his entries. We want to know you have been reading so we can feel better about the time we waste writing about shopping for Feijoas. Devin said some other things I felt I needed to address. When this is all done, will I stay vegetarian? Not a chance. Will I think differently about the meat I eat? Heck yes. When something is so deeply engrained into your lifestyle you cannot learn enough statistics about it to understand the role it plays in your life. Maybe Devin and I will have to try to not use any gasoline for a month next time we feel like being weird. Maybe I will really regret suggesting that. I don’t expect others to do these strange things, but if you are curious, I would suggest testing your own self-control and discipline. Can you make a commitment to learn something about yourself and follow through with it? Are you bigger than your habits and your appetites? Even if you conclude you should be eating more meat than you were before, at least you learned something. As for myself, I will watch the sizzling fajitas pass by my table and savor the beautifully deceptive flavors of my veggieburger a while longer.

(This is where the entry officially ends. If you want to hear a short funny story, read on)

Every fall, as it gets colder and the ground begins to freeze at night, the grounds department on campus flushes the sprinkler system and shuts it down for the winter. To do this they disconnect the water supply and crank up the pressure to blast out all remaining water in the pipes. Today, I was unlocking my bike, idly watching my fellow students wander about the paths of the common lawn area, when this sprinkler-flushing process began. One girl was walking with her eyes fixated intently on the ground in front of her when the sprinklers just to her left erupted with a massive and noisy burst of mist, right into her face. She screamed, recoiled, dropped her books and curled up into a ball on the ground, covering her head. It was amazing! It was like someone threw a grenade at her. She quickly got up and made a stiff-legged jog to the nearest building, probably pretty embarrassed. Classic.


Deb said...

This is Devin's mom. I thought I'd leave a comment on Alex's so he'd feel better--I hate to see a rift between my son and his good friend. But really, this is for both of you. I laugh out loud sitting at my computer every day reading your blogs. Thanks!

Tabitha said...

You should probably let people know about the dangers of vegetarianism.

Grace said...

wow alex... i enjoyed that story at the end way to much i feel. anyway.. you should probably write something about how you tried to kill you girlfriend by feeding her food that contained soy... that would make for an interesting topic on why some people just aren't cut out to be vegetarians.