My neighbor keeps bees. Really it’s her husband who is the apiarist, be she doesn’t mind an occasional hive in the backyard during its transformation from nuisance infestation to pollinator of yummy local peaches. She happens to be a fine physician, and as I rode by her house yesterday I saw her out back watering the garden. The weather’s been horrible for veggies, but she’s growing some sort of heirloom radish that’s doing great. She plucked one up for me, rinsed it off, and handed it to me. The leaves were a perfect medium green, tapering to white stems, and bulging into a perfectly round, deep pink bulb. I bit in expecting the usual bland but peppery taste of a grocery store radish. My teeth bit into the crisp flesh, and my mouth was filled with an earthy sweetness, almost like jicama, but with the peppery undertones typical of radishes. This was no garnish: this was real food.
I’ve been trying very hard to stick to real food, even when I eat crap (e.g. I’ll buy real ice cream with only three ingredients). Kids watch everything you do, make note of it, and will use it against you at any opportunity. I’m far from perfect, but I try to let my kid see me eat real, good food rather than crap. She’s made me a better eater. Like most kids, her major food groups are chicken nuggets and noodles, but if I sneak a bowl of ripe watermelon in front of her while the pasta is boiling, she’ll dig in.
The Midwest is full of good food, if you know where to look, but much of the year we are dependent on imports for fresh fruits and veggies. It’s not yet peach season here, but I did find some nice ones from Georgia, the kind that almost taste local and fall apart when you eat them. There are tons of farmers’ markets, but for busy people, this just isn’t always a feasible option, which is one of the reasons I’m happy to see more and more local produce at my supermarket.
Oh, but the local produce can be just wonderful—corn, apples, peaches, greens, berries. If they keep growing it, and my neighbor keeps sending out his pollinators, I’m a customer-for-life.