"Two converts, more to come"
By Jo Pavlov
A few neat things happened this week.
First off, I decided to give my sister, Anne Marie, half the contents of my basket. She's nothing like me -- she's a hearty leafy-greens vegetarian from way back. She's never met a vegetable she didn't like, never mind fawn over. You've never seen someone get so excited about a salad as her. She's the one you see who takes a picture of her stuffed pepper and posts it on Facebook with the caption "YUMMMM".
I'd told her about my weekly basket, and she's been reading the blog and is signed up for the Basil Bash this weekend. But it wasn't until she opened up the container I sent home with our mom and she took a double take and called me immediately.
"JO! This is ALL HEIRLOOM vegetables!! The last time I saw any of this was in Vancouver!"
I said, "I know. Linda's farm is called the Tree & Twig Heirloom Vegetable Farm."
Anne Marie (we call her "Am") said, "I know. You told me that. I guess I thought she just did heirloom tomatoes. But I didn't think... I didn't think it was THIS. I can't BELIEVE THIS. This is HEAVEN."
She was cracking me up. She was eating the leftover arugula with glee, "IT'S LIKE BUTTER" and trying the purslane "THIS IS HEAVEN" never mind the peppers and beans. She put our mom on the phone and I could hear her in the background going "THIS IS CRAZY! I DIDN'T KNOW IT WAS HEIRLOOM!!! I'm going to fry up this summer squash RIGHT NOW!"
After much ballyhooing we settled down and she said she needed to get a piece of this pie. I said I'd contact Linda and see about doubling my basket for the rest of the season, and we could continue to split it. Sure enough, Linda was amenable (she always is!) and this week, I went to go pick up the "family" sized basket.
Most Wednesdays, I teach my 13 year old friend Desi how to sew. I pick her up on my way home from work and at about 8, her mom comes by to pick her up from my place. I've known her mom for years, since before Desi was born, and I love them both dearly. She recently completed her grade eight grad dress, and it was beautiful. I went to her grad -- she looked like a million bucks up on that stage. Crinolines even! Before that, she completed a quilt and today, a sundress for her little sister.
She's a very good kid. Polite, well behaved. Her worst quality is that when she comes to my house, all she wants to eat are three or four hot dogs in a row with no buns or condiments. She's a typical kid. We eat ice cream together, snacks. I don't think I've ever offered her a salad. Or if I did, she opted for the hot dogs. (Which are only even in my freezer for when my mom comes to visit!!)
Since I pick up my CSA basket on Wednesdays, if Desi is with me, she comes along for the ride. Today we got to hug the FAST-growing ducklings and Pavlov just snuggled up in my neck and decided to take a little nap then and there. Maslow was full of beans and Desi had a hard time holding him. It was like he wanted to... run. Like the Indian runner he is.
But before that, on the way up to the front door, Desi asked me, "How much is it to buy your vegetables from here?"
I said, "It's $375 for the season, which is 15 weeks. That's $25 a week for enough vegetables for me and my sister."
She looked a little perplexed and said innocently, "That's a lot. Jo, why don't you just get a garden and grow your own vegetables?"
I blinked a few times and thought about how to answer that. I said, "Linda works VERY hard for this money. She plants, weeds, sows, transplants, waters... I had a garden once, it's tons of work. Never mind I only ever had tomatos and beans! Plus, Linda's food is all organic."
Linda answered the door, and while we were standing cuddling the ducks and waiting for Linda to grab the basket, Desi asked me what 'organic' meant. Loaded question in front of an organic farmer! I said that Linda doesn't use chemical fertilizers, weed killers or pesticides and that she does A LOT of weeding by hand. It was a full time job. I said that factories can produce a LOT of food, but it's all kind of tasteless, there are a lot of chemicals involve, it's genetically modified and it takes X tanks of gas to transport it unripened 6000 km from California. Kinda ridiculous when you can buy food from around the corner.
She asked me what "genetically modified" meant. I started to answer, but we got sidetracked. The basket arrived and she saw the beets. Like a typical 13 year old, she said, "Ew. Beets." We laughed.
After yakking with Linda a bit, we got going. On the way to the car, I asked her if she wanted a tomato. She looked a little thrown off, like I'd offered her a worm or something (instead of a processed hot dog) but she relented and said okay.
I handed her three tiny heirloom tomatoes. One red, two yellow. I held a green and yellow one in my hand. She looked kind of stunned. "Why are they so small???"
I said tomatoes come in all shapes and sizes. The ones in the grocery stores are grown in factory-like conditions so that they all look the same but they taste kind of tasteless and waterlogged.
"Why is this yellow??" she continued.
I said not all tomatoes are red. Some are, but yellow ones are awesome, too. Just try it.
She made a face but popped it in her mouth. Her expression changed almost immediately. "That's delicious!" she proclaimed, and ate the other two in short order. "Can I have some more?"
I handed her the green one. She looked VERY skeptical. She popped it into her mouth. She smiled.
"Jo?" she said.
"Yes, Des?" I replied.
"I love green tomatoes."
"Good." I said.
We drove along in silence for a bit, then she started digging through the basket some more. "What's this?"
"I have no idea," I said. "I think it might be a Gherkin if I read the blog correctly last night."
"A gherkin. Like a pickle before it's a pickle."
She bit in and again, grinned from ear to ear. "I like gherkins!" she announced. Ate the rest in short order.
"Good," I replied.
That kid tried everything by the time we got home. She declared yellow and green tomatoes are THE BEST, while gherkins were a close second. Ground cherries were gross (I liked them!) and Mouse melons weren't all I'd made them out to be. Raw cabbage is foul and lemongrass required an actual spit-out.
All this from kid who has eaten plain hot dogs, root beer and potato chips in my presence up until today.
Two converts, more to come.