Sunday, May 16, 2010

Do You Eat Art?

On Friday, my dad rode along with the kids and me when we went to retrieve Felix from the emergency vet. When we arrived at the clinic, we had to wait a while due to the recent arrival of a couple critical cases. That was fine; we spent our time chatting in the lobby.

Dad told me about the dishwasher woes of one of my brothers. High-end machine, chronic problems. Conversation shifted to the way saving up to buy "top of the line" machines was no longer a safe bet because quality overall had decreased so much. I was reminded of some of the "art" I saw at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC. I was really struck by some of the everyday items on display. They were beautiful and utilitarian. They were obviously made by skilled artisans who took pride in their work. And they have survived more or less intact through the ages.

Segue to yesterday. The Girl and I worked in the garden. We got most of the tomatoes in, all of the basil, and some flowers too. We made a good dent in the remaining patch of weeds, and have the strawberry bed just about ready to be covered (and not a moment too soon!). The Girl worked on filling the crater (mine shaft?) The Boy dug last fall (because he likes to dig and I was curious to see how deep he would go if left to his own devices. I told him to quit when I could only see his head bobbing amongst the grass). And I noticed that the Russian Red Kale plant is covered in seed pods, and began wondering how long I should leave them before harvesting the seeds.

Moving right along to this morning, I was looking for an article about harvesting those kale seeds when I found this post at Calendula & Concrete. The article itself wasn't what I was looking for, but goodness, look at those photos! The variety of shapes, colors, and textures is... awesome. And beautiful. And just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the art you can find in the garden, much of which is edible.  I was again reminded of the everyday items on display at the Met, and wondered if those artisans took their inspiration from their gardens.

When you open your cabinets, do you find art inside? How about when you open your refrigerator? If you read that C&C article, then you read this quote from Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life: "Modern U.S. consumers now get to taste less than 1 percent of the vegetable varieties that were grown here a century ago." Less than 1 percent. Would you feel you had been robbed if some band of corporations bought up your culture's art and left you with access to less than 1 percent of your artistic heritage? Because that is exactly what has happened to your food heritage if you live in the U.S.

This is part of the reason I garden. A walk through my garden is like a walk through an edible living history museum right in my backyard. There are colors and textures and smells and tastes you will never find in a modern American grocery, or probably even at a farmers market. So, if you do not garden, I encourage you to plant something- anything you like- and see what happens. And if you do garden, I encourage you to plant some new art this year, and then savor every bite.

This post is participating in Fight Back Friday, hosted by Food Renegade, which you can find here.


  1. Thought provoking post. It is so sad that there is no longer a pride in craftsmanship in the goods we make in this country. Or grow, as you point out. Yes, I do need to explore the new. Thanks for the nudge.

  2. I'll be interested to see what you come up with (as always). I've wanted to grow fish peppers for years- a beautiful variegated hot pepper with a long local history. I have read that the variegation can spread to other plants, though, and since I like to save seed, I would be bummed if next year everything came up striped! :D But, I think if I can track down some seed, I will try it in a pot out front and see if that is enough separation.

  3. We heard from Rascal about Felix's health issues, and wanted to let you know we are praying and purring for you. Be well.

  4. We read about Felix over ont he cat blogosphere and we are purring and purring for him to get better. Bless you for being willing to spend so much to take care of him.

  5. We are still purrin' for you Felix, feel better furend....Mommy is working on a rose garden this year...check out our blog=^Y^=