Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Side Yard Bounty

I just got home from work walked out to the side yard and picked some raspberries, one strawberry and a handful of cherries. Now this may not seem like something to get excited over, but after reading yesterdays news about ADHD being linked to pesticides I am excited to get chemical free produce where I can.

The last couple of weeks our CSA box has come with strawberries which don't last long. That night and maybe a handful in the morning. I could eat strawberries for breakfast lunch and dinner but Raspberries are few and far between at our house. I try every once in awhile to buy some organic ones but inevitably I have a melt down when my $5 berries are moldy before it seems I've even gotten them home. So discovering the raspberry bush in the side yard is darn close to nirvana for me, an urban Californian.

I didn't used to be so far from good berries. As a high school student my summer job was picking blueberries and raspberries for a local friend who owned a small u pick it farm. He would give me $0.25 a pint if I am remembering correctly but what I didn't get paid in cash I got paid in berries.

I then moved up to the position of bucket weigher during the u pick it months. What a sweet job that was, I would sit in the little bucket shack and read a book, waiting for the next pickers to show up, so I could weigh their buckets and show them the best spot to pick. At the end of the night, I'd add to my pay by picking clean the bushes that they had barely touched only for the easiest to reach berries. Amateurs. The owner of the farm would leave me lunch on the counter, beer bread with peanut butter and jelly. Sweet.

I think that may have just been the best job I ever had and the best berries I ever had. I don't think that's the story at the corporate berry farms and maybe that's the problem. I remember one week during one summer, we picked the mummy berries. Not my favorite job, these were berries that had a fungus and were not edible and looked pretty gross. Instead of flooding the fields with chemicals, we picked each bush clean and disposed of the "mummys" allowing a new crop to come, fresh bright berries. There is a way to grow good healthy food without chemicals. It just takes some time and care and common sense. I for one would rather care than not.