As I sit here sharing my cheese and tomato sandwich with Otis (one of my cats), I reflect on a conversation I had with another farmer earlier this week. This farmer sets up across from me at the Illinois Products Farmers’ Market in Springfield. As I was finishing, he walks over and says “I’m glad I’m not the only one who has ugly tomatoes”. My reply was along the lines of “Hey! Don’t insult my tomatoes, you’ll hurt their feelings”. This brief exchange prompted a conversation about human expectation. It seems someone had asked him where the “pretty” tomatoes were… So, I’m looking at my tomatoes and realize they aren’t perfect. They aren’t perfectly round and uniform in size. They have strange little bumps and bulges and range in size from that of a golf ball to those the size of a soft ball. But… my strange, little “ugly” tomatoes are amazingly tasty; so why would I care if they are perfect and uniform and LACKING IN FLAVOR? Which is where our conversation landed. Our vegetables aren’t perfect from an appearance standpoint – but they are spot on where it counts… flavor.
So… how did we land here? Are we so programed by mass produced vegetables as to what is acceptable and what isn’t? When did taste become the lesser important factor vs the visual appeal? For me – never. Taste will always be the important factor with food.
On my farm, every single item I raise – does so on its own. It’s not genetically modified. I don’t add chemicals to control bugs or weeds that may alter the appearance of my produce. Who wants that on their food anyway? Sheesh! Vegetables that need to be plants when they go out in the field are started from seed in my greenhouse… that way I know chemicals haven’t aided their growth. Something to think about. I grow milkweed along with the many other things I grow. I grow it specifically so Monarch butterflies have a place to make babies. One thing I found out a few years back… Miracle Grow is toxic to butterflies… makes you wonder what it does to us when we eat food that has been fertilized with it. Something to ponder as you look for perfection in your vegetables. Me? I just want food that taste good and doesn’t have any added chemicals. And those tomatoes? They taste unbelievable great! You couldn't ask for a better tasking tomato.