Saturday, September 10, 2011

It tastes as good as it is for you

One memory I have as a kid is sitting on my aunt's porch in country Idaho shelling peas. My sister and I were given the task with my cousin. I don't remember how we felt when we were first given the task, but after awhile, it became apparent that this was a good thing to be doing, and it was because these peas tasted amazing. Fresh out of the garden, sweet, and glorious.

As I've looked more into food, I've begun to realize that there is a very real reason for that. The first is that when food is grown in your own backyard (literally in that case, but also figuratively in the case of it being grown close by) it can be picked at the height of freshness, instead of being picked to last the longest before going to market. With the long distance that produce generally travels, and the bumps and bruising that happens along the way, they have actually begun to breed varieties that are picked for their appearance after this journey. They are effectively breeding less tasty varieties, and these varieties pack less nutrients too. It's all for the sake of portability, so the produce grown in California or Florida or Idaho or wherever for the crop can be shipped the average 1500 miles that food travels. The varieties that have been grown for generations that have been chosen just for the fact that they taste delicious, they are being lost. There are places that are saving the wider varieties, such as Seed Savers, which I've bought from. Those seeds were the thing I was most worried about coming through customs into Australia actually, because they have you go through a special line if you have anything like that, and I was worried I'd get my seeds taken away.

You also get varieties that look really really cool, stripey kinds, and purple carrots, blue potatoes. I began to realize that I had this limited concept of fruits and vegetables based on what I had seen at the supermarket, and that there was a whole other world out there, where food is bred to taste delicious, while still retaining a nutrient balance. Like, it makes evolutionary sense! Food that is good for us tastes good! (Now you're thinking about that bag of potato chips that tastes mighty wonderful but will pack on the pounds if you give in to your desire to eat potato chips all day long - well, the issue with that is that in the wild, finding a fat source like that, it would normally be few and far between, and so you would want to gorge on it to improve your fat stores, because it was unpredictable when the next opportunity might come. Instead our opportunity is for every meal of every day, so that has to be tempered by our mind. Not so with produce though.) Foods that have the nutrients we need will be desirable to us, and those that have less are less desirable. If you taste a tomato that's been shipped 1500 miles and an heirloom tomato freshly picked, there is a cosmic difference. There was a lady who tried a Pizzeria 712 caprese salad who had never liked tomatoes before, and when she tried what I'd deem the real thing, she cried.

When I think back to that day, shelling those peas, though, eating them to my heart's content, I was young then. There's that pervasive image in our culture - the mom telling their kids to eat their vegetables. What the kids realize that the mom doesn't is that the vegetables should be telling them themselves to be eaten. No one had to tell me to keep eating those peas that day. I wanted them because they tasted wonderful. I wasn't thinking about the nutrients, because thousands of years of biological evolution and taste-dominated crop selection had already done the work for me. All I had to think about was whether it tasted good. Because with produce, it tastes as good as it is for you.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

True Love

If there is one thing I have been convinced of in the past year or so, it is that true love really does exist. When I started coming to my own sense of self last year, and reached the point where I realized that I would be much happier single than I would ever be in an unhappy relationship, I began really looking, exploring what I wanted in a relationship. I saw two examples of relationships that I thought were similar in type to what I would want. My mom's parents, you always knew they loved each other, just with this like, incredibly special love. My grandpa would talk about meeting her, and how he just kinda knew she was the one for him, and you could tell though she wore years and the regular hardship of life on her body, that his love for her had only grown, and he loved her the entire way through.

I also looked at Scott and Carolyn, people who just fit together, who still seemed as interested in each other as they did as newlyweds, four years and two kids on. They are also very very physically affectionate, which is something I've always related to, and I saw in that something I wanted, affection that would go past the courting and early stages.

I started looking for love, but then at some point realized that I just needed to wait for love to find me, that if I wanted what my grandparents had, maybe I needed to wait for the whole package, not to do the finding, but to be found.

And then I was found. In the place I least expected, by a person I would have never guessed existed behind his screen name. And I fell, head over heels in love. A couple weeks after he expressed interest in me, I kind of knew, though it took a few more weeks for my mind to catch up, and accept it.

I remember as a child growing up, seeing all the Hollywood movies about "true love", like Ever After, the Princess Bride, and then like, suddenly realizing that it was not some Hollywood invention, but this is -real-.

I walked into my first marriage with the anticipation that it would be hard, but that it would ultimately be worth it. I was right about the hard part, wrong about it being worth it. With Andrew, things just seemed to fall into place, and seemed easy. Not that the circumstances of life were easy, but we were easy. It isn't this perpetual act of trying to fit a round peg in a square hole, but a round peg in a round hole. We fit. We match.

But if there is one thing I wish I could tell everyone, that I could scream to the world, it's that true love is real, and that it is worth it. It is worth whatever it takes, whatever waiting, whatever preparing, whatever uncertainty, whatever risk. You look on the surface of the risk I took - leaving my home, leaving my country, to marry a man I'd never met in person*. But I knew, I just knew. Where I tried to know with Janardan, I just knew naturally with Andrew. We were sitting in the hot tub in New Zealand, telling this guy our story, and he was shocked, but then said, "Well, when you know, you know."

And as I lay here in bed, next to this man I love more than I thought possible, who loves me more than I've ever seen in someone, thinking over our life together to this point. I can't believe that just nine months ago, he was beginning to register on the radar, and ten months ago, I had not the faintest idea or feeling. It seems insane that such a small amount of time has passed, because in some sense, a new life started when we came together - our life. And it has been rich with experiences and beauty. Every day, every moment is special. Even if we're fighting about the rules to a card game, or Andrew's getting pissy because of the traffic. It's our life, and I love it. I feel so lucky to be a part of it. It feels so unique and rare, because I know there is no one else out there who I could have this with, but not because I don't think something like it exists out there for everyone. I think true love is out there for anyone capable of putting someone else before themselves.

And I hope those who haven't found it will, and won't accept anything less, because there is nothing that makes you richer in life than love.

*Now I feel like I need to add a caution here, that I don't think everyone should just go out meeting everyone from the internet all around the world with reckless abandon. Like, only do it if you're sure, because there are a lot of people who will prey on you, and do bad things to you just because you will trust too easily, on the internet and off. At the same time, you have to back yourself to know the difference. If you value yourself, you'll know, and you'll know which way to lean. But don't take the risk with someone else when you don't value yourself. Number one thing is that you aren't really in a place to be with someone else if you aren't comfortable with yourself. The ability to be perfectly happy single is, I think, a vital part of being ready for a committed relationship, most of all to make sure you are not taken advantage of.