But, alas, no fat pig.
(That’s next week.)
The weather has been absolutely whackadoo everywhere this…err..winter? Especially here in California where the last two weekends have been way above average in temprature. Today it was officially spring at my favorite farmer’s market in Oakland, the Jack London Farmer’s Market. Warm sun, bay breeze, shorts, skirts and short sleeves were everywhere. Lil Dude and I grabbed some tamales, sat on the lawn and watched the boats on the bay before heading into the market. What may be suprising to some is that the fun part for Lil Dude of going to the farmer’s market (aside from the bounce-house which returns in the spring) is discovering what’s available. Normally, he doesn’t get much of a say when it comes to grocery shopping because I tend to do it alone. But at the farmer’s market, he calls all the shots. So, of course, all the warm weather made him want strawberries and peaches and cherries. But despite the 70-something degree weather, the produce was all still winter.
Lil’ Dude: “Mommy, why are all the foods boring?”
Me: “What do you mean by ‘boring’?”
L: “They’re all round and one color…or lettuce. Or Kale. That’s boring. But like peaches have two colors when they’re red and yellow. And Cherries are black and red and yellow. Potatoes are boring. Lettuce-boring. Canteloupe’s not boring cause it’s got that brown on the outside then the green and orange. And watermelon has stripes.”
M: “What about apples? They come in different colors. These fuji apples are yellow and red.”
L: “Mom. An apple can’t beat a peach. Even with three colors on it.”
Well played, Lil Dude.
And a pretty astute observation about our winter food choices if you ask me. Winter vegetables are boring to look at. I’ll agree with Lil Dude that it’s kinda hard to get excited about a table full of potatoes. And while yummy, Kale is just a big, unruly bunch of green. Now that the pears are gone all we’re left with are apples and oranges. And we live in a state where you can actually get fresh local produce in March. I can only imagine how “round and one color” a farmers market in Minnesota looks during a normal winter…if there’s a market at all.
L: ”Mom, can we go to the Vietnamese store and get some mangoes?”
My taste buds were totally on board with that idea. But…you know…the challenge?
M: “Sorry, honey, we can’t. It’s not mango season. We’ll find something here.”
L: “MOM! STRAWBERRIES!”
Of course, the early strawberries were now in and at a few of the booths at the market. Thing is, they’re not organic. And as strawberries are number 3 on the Dirty Dozen List, they’re only coming home if they’re organic. Strawberries are a perennial plant. So you can plant them and with virtually no care, they’ll fruit every year. When I bought our house 11 years ago we put in a small patch of strawberries which has grown to a rather large, 20 plant patch. Every year we add a couple more plants and every year we have more strawberries than we, and every kid the neighborhood can eat. So when it’s really strawberry season, we know it. Funny…you can’t get an organic strawberry in March. Shouldn’t that be telling us something?
M: “Sorry, babe. Those aren’t any good.”
L:“Then how come that man is selling us bad strawberries?
At this point I’m wishing 5 year olds weren’t’ so inquisitive, but what a fair question. Why IS that man selling us bad strawberries? What is my answer to my strawberry-loving son as to why those gleaming, sweet smelling berries are so bad that I won’t let him eat it? WHY is this even a question at all? Shouldn’t I be able to just feed my child something in it’s whole state, grown, not manufactured, without concerns about what kind of damage it could be doing to his young body? It’s fruit for pete’s sake. It was a seed that grew and is edible without any altering. It should be perfect. But it’s not and it’s because we want strawberries in March instead of April, for one. And when you’re 5 none of this makes any sense to you. So I took the easy way out.
M:“It’s because they use bug spray to keep the icky bugs off of them and I don’t want you to eat a strawberry with bug spray on it. Do you want to eat a strawberry with bug spray on it?”
L: “Eww. No. So why can’t they just put out the beer for the bugs like we do? Bugs like beer and then I can have strawberries.”
Really??? One more question and Mommy is going to need the beer for herself. Screw the strawberries.
M: “Honey, he has a BIG FARM and that would be a lot of beer. And it’s more complicated than that. Besides, we have all of our strawberry plants at home, remember? They’ll have strawberries soon…in April.”
L: “So when will it be Mango season?”
M: “April 8. Easter Sunday. When Lent ends.”