Years ago at the height of my fanaticism for heirloom vegetables I coined the phrase "Eat in the past".
And yes. It's still there on my website, and will be carrying over onto the new website in 2012.
Clever? Maybe. But maybe not.
Some people might look at it and think "hmm, what is this? Eat expired food? Spend all day in the kitchen and forego modern conveniences?"
Well, of course it really only means try heirloom vegetables. Grow them, eat them and keep them alive.
Because as long as people are growing them and eating them, the seed continues to be in existence and in demand. Considering 90% of our vegetable varieties have disappeared over the past hundred years this is pretty important.
In some ways living in the past is important too.
My parents lived through the depression and although they were very young, it clearly had a huge influence on how they lived their lives and how they raised my sisters and I.
They didn't buy things they didn't need. When they shopped they looked at quality and price.
We weren't poor, middle class I would say. But "a penny saved is a penny earned" is how we lived.
My mom gardened on a big scale and canned and froze much of her produce.
No food was ever wasted. My whole life I didn't see (or do I see now) food in our garbage can.
One tea bag made two cups of tea, everything was made from scratch and you ate everything on your plate.
And yes. If I didn't like something I sat at the table till I ate it. Not how things are to be done now I know.
But most people were the same.
I remember every summer after my dad had harvested the wheat, taking a bushel full of the beautiful golden grains to our elderly neighbour. It was his morning cereal for most of the year. He would soak a portion overnight, then cook it up for breakfast, and add a bit of sugar and milk.
For some reason we didn't do that. Maybe mom figured that was more than she could get away with. Kids and all, you know.
Our breakfasts were oatmeal porridge, Red River Cereal or Cream of Wheat.
I was reminded this summer of how simple our life really was by seeing a branch in my elderly friend's yard.
This branch, propping up her laundry line nearly made me cry as a memory came into my head. She must have wondered as I stared at it.
That's what my mom did. With a nail hammered in the top to hold the line, that branch held up that line for nearly 40 years. It's funny to think about it. It was good enough, and did what had to be done. No gadgets, no purchases. Nothing shiny and new. It was just a branch.
Many these days would have you believing that being environmentally friendly is also about buying products that are labelled as such. And sure. If you have to buy something, I guess that's the way to go.
But I think lots of times we're still buying things we really don't need. Buying stuff fills some strange vacant spot inside us.
A few years back I went to a big "green" event in Toronto and came out with my head spinning. "Green" was interpreted as buying more stuff and there was a whole massive building full of it for sale. Maybe the stuff was more environmentally friendly. But with "greenwashing", maybe it wasn't.
I'm not sure buying more stuff we really don't need is the way out of this environmental mess we've gotten ourselves in. Even if it is (supposedly) environmentally friendly.
Maybe it is buying less. Making do with what we have.
I don't want to relive those childhood years. (Well, actually maybe if I could, I would. They were really good years.)
But clearly, here we are today and this is where I want to be.
It all comes back to tomatoes.
Maybe we should be a bit more like the tomato. A tomato that is overfed and overwatered simply doesn't taste as good as one grown with a bit less attention. The best tomatoes I ever grew were ones which grew on my hard-to-manage clay with water withheld for the season. They thrived on less.
If we had a bit less maybe we'd appreciate what we do have a bit more. We might even see that all that stuff isn't necessary for us to be the very best we can be. And the residual effects of less consumption might be good for the bigger picture.
It might not be that bad to live in the past.