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I’m the Guy That Your 13-Year-Old Hopes You Don’t Buy Anything From

June 1, 2009

IMG_1770Green vegetables, the ever-feared, always-loathed food group that so many of us tried our best to avoid as our taste buds were developing.  It’s a wonder that Popeye convinced any of us that spinach was worth eating, but somehow I got past that stage and I am now the proud arch nemesis to many unsuspecting young teens in the Stratford area.  It’s not often, but every once and a while we come face to face, my enemy and me.  Imagine you’re thirteen, the only green in your diet are green apple air-heads and the last thing you want to do at eight am on a Saturday morning is walk around with your mom among a hoard of people that think like her.  If it weren’t for the borderline blackmail agreement you made with her last night about getting ice cream with your friends later that Saturday, you would still be in bed.  I stand behind my wall of green things, with a frightening number of other potted plants that probably produce similarly terrifying vegetables.  And not to mention the Apple Butter, if you thought apple sauce was bad, this stuff is darker, stickier and a far cry from its claimed main ingredient: the apple.  But it’s not the green stuff, per se, that is so daunting, rather the conversation that ensues:

IMG_1705“And do you know what this is?” I ask, gesturing to a bunch of horrifically coarse and furry leaves that you hadn’t noticed before.  “No” she replies with a dreaded tone of interest that always means something-new-to-try for dinner.

“This is comfrey” I explain, holding the bouquet of leaves as if it were a dozen roses.  Her eyes grow wider as her mind begins to fathom its potential health benefits, “how do you prepare it?” she asks trying to not sound ignorant or desperate.  As I explain its nutritional and homeopathic traits as well as its many culinary uses you can picture it in your minds eye: the putrid green pile of now felt textured, spinachesque vegetable matter that is plopped with pride onto your dinner plate; a new vegetable for you to try!  I can see all of this behind your blank stare, and my knowing smile is all that much more infuriating so you tell your mom you’re going to wait in the apple fritter line.

IMG_1797If it is not comfrey that you fear, than maybe it is the “Zesty Salad Mix,” just the descriptor “zesty” is enough to make you cringe.  You thought iceberg lettuce was manageable with a fair allotment of Kraft Fat Free Ranch salad dressing, but somehow these greens can’t be hidden behind even the strongest artificial flavors.  Even the heads of lettuce don’t look like they should, some leaves look glossy, some have a more colorful matte finish and none come neatly shrink wrapped.  It was as if your mom finally found that store of vegetable ammunition, which she has been threatening you with for so long.  That’s right, I’m that dangerous, and it’s only going to get worse as the spring turns to summer.

What you don’t know is that I used to be like you; my mother had to hide peas in my pancakes to try and get me to eat something green.  And what you cannot even begin to fathom is that someday you might be like me.  I love my “job” and what’s more I love the life that comes with it, and I don’t think I’m alone.  The New York Times recently ran an article in the”Dining and Wine” section that describes the recent trend of liberal arts students that have chosen to see what this whole farming thing is about.  It is not your typical job, life is put into your hands from the moment you step foot on the farm: often times animals depend on you for food, and vice versa.  IMG_1674You have to be creative, imaginative and when a chicken pecks you when you try to feed him and then poops on you when you do it helps to have a sense of humor.  Take this mustard flower to the right.  They litter our pastures and the flower is a burst of sweet flavor backed by your typical mustard gusto.  This yellow delight of flavor is now the newest garnish in our zesty salad mix and just one of the creative ideas that bounce around on this farm.

It is not surprising to me that liberal arts students, like myself, are drawn to farming.  It is like the best of essay topics, given by that imortal Humanities professor who always manages to instill that ever illusive self-kindled inspiration.  The question challanges some personal part of your intelect, it makes you dig deep into your mental and moral priorities: what is it that I care about?  And you know before you start that nothing but honest comitment and perserverence will come close to uprooting the answer.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 2, 2009 8:26 am

    I think I’ve never heard about comfrey, and I don’t really identify what a zesty salad tastes like so I hope you guys save some for me until october.

    And, dude, don’t be so hard on inocent teenagers. Maybe you can give them petroleum-based sweets to make them comfortable… Ja, ja, ja, ja, ja, just kidding!! 😉

    Susu.

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