Tuesday, July 01, 2008
manna falls verily
...i cannot tell a lie, it was i – me, me, me – who coined those words...
What a hoot it is to hear our incumbent governor claim responsibility for the Buy Local phenomenon. Maybe that should be “Buy Local Genetically Modified Food.” I remember how disappointed – and yes, disgusted and disgruntled, distracted and disturbed – I was when he vetoed the GM seed bill, otherwise known as The Farmer Protection Act, thereby positing himself directly into the chummy embrace of Monsanto, the huge chemical company that owns, with others of its ilk, the genetically modified seeds in question. Conjunctly, he positioned himself directly in opposition to all Vermont farmers, for the bill would have diverted the responsibility for GM crops polluting neighboring farmers’ organic fields from the GM farmer to the GM seed company.
Maybe it should be “Buy Local Immaculately Conceived Food,” because our incumbent governor has done little to nothing to help farmers and gardeners and eaters in his many years under the Golden Dome, and if we don’t help and protect our farmers then we must have faith that manna will drift down from the wild blue yonder and fall verily onto our plates.
I called my daughter to clue her into the joke. “Wow,” she said, “that’s like Al Gore inventing the internet.”
“That was Anthony’s thought, exactly,” I said. “Great minds must think alike!”
She knew I meant candidate-for-governor Anthony Pollina, who had said, “This is ridiculous!” Exasperation clearly sounding in his voice. “The idea that (our current governor) founded the buy-local movement ranks right up there with the idea that Al Gore invented the Internet.”
And he who founded Rural Vermont, co-founded The Vermont Milk Company, and has worked unstintingly for human rights and justice and our farmers since back in the ‘80s – Anthony Pollina – had every right to be exasperated with the governor’s omnivorous claims to undeserved fame – and not only in the field of food. One might recall a photo in a glossy magazine of Da Gov sitting on a dining room chair in the midst of a of green grassy field modestly making claim to a wonderful new health care system. The benefits of Catamount health care – a bastardization of the optimal single-payer system the legislature originally came up with, and which he vetoed – are proving almost as elusive as its namesake! (Peter Freyne wrote about it here: http://www.sevendaysvt.com/nc/columns/inside-track-politics/2006/vermont-political-history.html )
Actually, though, with all due modesty, it was I – me, me, me, me – who came up with the whole, more grammatically correct, idea of Buying and Eating Locally! For instance, back in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s, my “Of Greens and Wrath”, about the first dandelion salad of the new growing season, started out this way (and I beg your pardon for quoting myself – Strunk and White are rolling in their graves):
"I live a short distance from one of those so-called convenience stores that sells out-of-state milk, lots of gunk in packages, and stays open all night. It has absolutely no produce from and nothing to do with its own locale, just sells here — makes a buck. I don't know who it is convenient to except to the big double-haulers who screech their big air brakes to a stop at 4 a.m. and leave their big motors grumbling below my bedroom window.
"My gripe isn't with the convenience store itself — it, like a weed, will take root wherever people let it: No, my gripe is with those people who actually support it, who trudge past my house with a few dollars clutched in their hands, then back again carting a gallon of milk for which they probably paid a dime less than for local milk. This, in a village with two very adequate Moms & Pops trying to make a living, that lies smack in the middle of an agrarian, a dairy, state in which farmers are going on food stamps and/or selling out. That's sloppy consumerism, and that makes me grouchy."
"It is beginning to be found, by people who study these kinds of things, that there is a synergy between what people always ate, their evolution affected by that food, and their present-day health. When their diets are changed to mainstream, often packaged, ones, they tend to develop illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
"If this is true then we are in trouble, for we don't seem to have the wherewithal to resist the new, the fake, the fast. Because, as I started to say, when it comes to food and economics we don't seem to know which side of the bread we put that butter on. The least we could do is make sure it was local bread and local butter, and local bucks we spend, but we don't seem to exhibit even that much grounding in food reality.
"Minus the cheap thrills of overpackaged, synthetically flavored food, people used to eat — hungrily, and with true enjoyment — the first non-poisonous greens to appear in the spring. Cows do it. And that is why that first mess of dandelions is important — because it is indigenous, and because it is first. Bitter? Hell no! Food! Good. Green. Ours!"
Can you hear the exasperation in my ‘voice’ there? But my exasperation stemmed from the fact that nobody seemed to be listening. Anthony’s stems from the fact that someone who has no right to do so is claiming to be the progenitor of the tidal wave of Buy Local consciousness.
From that, we might deduce that things have gotten a little better, but not before they’d gotten a whole lot worse. Back when I wrote “Of Greens...”, we had a whole lot farther down to go before we could even begin looking up. Now, even the Johnnie-come-lately Gov wants to get on the bandwagon!
Perhaps each year we are newly surprised by the bounty and brightness of the Rutland Summer Farmers’ Market, but this year the produce seems earlier and more varied than ever. Cabbage and carrots and kohlrabi, as well as the first zucchini are all in just now. The first peas, too. Plump heads of garlic to supplement the green stuff that grows in my garden. And we scored genuine Vermont buffalo mozzarella to go with a buffalo dry sausage that is to die for.
Remember that the Tuesday Farmers’ Market’s hours are now 3 to 6 PM, for the convenience of downtown workers AND the quality, because farmers can pick the produce that day.
Summer Saturdays are 9 to 2.
We all wish the best of luck to Clem’s and Three Tomatoes to get back up and running soon, after the devastating floods? er, um, infrastructure back-ups? that happened on June 14th. We need to help them in that process as much as we can. And make good use of them when they do reopen – which won’t be difficult. There’s always a good breakfast or lunch at Clems, in comfortable and enjoyable surroundings,. And 3Ts has got us in on a busy night and fed us and sent us off to the Paramount on time! Good service, ambiance, really good Vermont food. Wow, would we miss them! Good thing we won’t have to, or at least not for long.
I do hear people voicing misgivings about the time change for Friday Night Live – it’s been scooted down to 6 to 10, instead of 4 or 5 to 9. “I’m simply not coming home from work and then going back in,” is a common refrain I hear, and since downtown workers often knock off early on Fridays, it would seem a good idea to start it going at least by 4 PM and let people go home when they will.
That said, What a wonderful success FNL is!