Saturday, January 26, 2008

One Bok Choy Patch at a Time

Gourd flowers. Speaking of.... squash flowers can be made into nice summer fritters :)

So much for the corporate social responsibilities discussed in business schools. Outside the classroom we are just private individuals; outside our books, we are back into our old habits. And the moment we push our grocery carts down the aisle thinking about our own families – those social responsibilities specially about solution to world hunger and environmental care seem to fly out of the window. (Or at least, when the stubbornness bug bites me, I am guilty of this.)

To add more salt to the painful wound, I find it quite ironic that our country being an agricultural third world, can have high levels of hunger (Check out the stats). Go on a road trip to any province and you’ll see lots of vegetation. We are surrounded by seas- perhaps we have no reason why our salt has to be iodized (Besides, sea salt tastes much better). We are certainly far from being a desert. Throw a handful of mungbean seeds anywhere, and in the next few days little seedlings will sprout (nope, they won’t become the sprouts you put in your sandwich). My point is, there are just the glorious signs of life- and food- right under our nose.

Maybe I could trace this ounce of optimism from my roots for having come from a family of farmers. The lifestyle of my ancestors were quite laidback but the good thing is, even in their old age with and without the benefits of social security, I haven’t heard of anyone die of hunger nor suffered from any chronic disease. Most of them even lived longer although not necessarily up to a hundred. I have my personal thoughts on their lives (and even a little envious of how they lived theirs) and how that simple, happy existence actually can be lived all over again in the modern times.

I experienced on the first quarter last year one of the greatest joys in my life. During my breaks, I tended to the family garden. Hoeing, digging, weeding, planting, transplanting, working on a new seedbed. It was very rewarding, actually. I was very happy because I never get to do that in the city. (Plus I got my lazy muscle arms toned. We also took photos to celebrate a great summer and freeze the moment before the typhoons arrive).

I saw my grand parents do the same thing many years ago. Now that I am a bit older, I not only realized just how fun gardening could be, but the wonderful access it gives you to real clean, fresh food. That same summer, for example, we need not buy everything from the grocery store nor the wet market anymore. Mornings always included a little walk to the garden: We cooked breakfast omelet with freshly- picked green peppers (hidden under the leaves were small patches of aphids, though :), fresh radish and jalapeno pepper for sinigang, freshly- uprooted bok choy to go with our tofu, soft gourds for misua with egg, and fragrant lemon grass for baked chicken. There wasn’t even the slightest worry about pesticides and chemicals, nor the need to wash the produce with soap prior to cooking. I will not emphasize here either the good that you can get from green- leafy vegetables. Information is everywhere, that is already taught in grade one – or even Popeye can testify that greens (not in cans, please) can get you that extra “healthy point”, I should say. I don’t know about the Popeye makers, but were they really promoting veggies to kids?

Anyway. This may not be the soundest formula to solve world hunger, but I consider them lucky who have small pieces of land there at their doorsteps. Large agricultural corporations may have laid down their plans of highfaluting solutions to feed the many, but gardening, and even small- scale farming could very well solve food problems of a family. Pretty much. I know little- or rather nothing – about the history of France but knowing that this beautiful country survived the depression- for the fact that it is a country of farmers- is a living proof that tilling a small piece of land can go a long way. (I don’t remember who exactly said that. Wendell Berry?)

Having a gift of land for even a few square meters, I could easily transform myself into Pomona. A pair of garden clogs, gloves, sunblock, a packet of seeds, and ah, yes, a little sense of fun – screw hunger.

Hunters swear. Hunters kill. But hunters never underestimate the capacity of the earth to give. And our harvest definitely smiles back at us :)


coco said...

Oh I have been dreaming of having a nice yard by my house to grow fruits and vegetables for a while now... you just got that urge back once again. :) but there is just no space for vegetation in the concrete jungles!

foodhuntress79 said...

You bet, Coco! How frustrating can it get sometimes living in the city?! So while I have time and space in the countryside, I really make it a point to do just that! Thanks for dropping by :)

Anonymous said...

Squash flower fritters = yum!

I agree with you gardening can be a lot of fun and not too hard to do. I have a blast cooking from big bossman's garden in the Hamptons every summer. Homegrown fruits and vegetables taste soooo much better!

I like your little gardener's look there! :-)

Anali said...

This is such a beautiful and thoughtful post. My mom had a vegetable garden a few years ago and nothing was more wonderful than eating freshly picked food. She has only grown flowers recently, but I love picking my own flowers too. Mother earth does provide us with a precious bounty of gifts. And that is a great picture of you. Love the hat!