Some Things Do Grow on Trees

I’m not entirely sure why seeing fruit growing on a tree for the first time impressed me so. I grew up in rural Ohio, and was exposed to cultivated agriculture on a daily basis. My high school was surrounded by fields of corn! But not once, until I left Ohio, was I afforded the opportunity to see a fruit tree in all its glory. I can still recall the first time I traveled to Greece, awestruck with all the many fruits exploding off the heavily weighted branches of numerous trees. Apricots, plums, lemons, pistachios, blackberries, and my favorite, figs, were dangling before my very eyes. Only once was I lucky enough to have the opportunity to continue my stay until late August, when figs reach their full ripeness.

Once again, this year, fortune smiles upon me, and I will be around to split open the first fig of the season. There’s something special about peeling back the skin and taking a bite of the soft, fragrant flesh, and then crunching the delicate, minuscule seeds with your teeth. Then again, there’s also something special about taking a bite of a tomato or a cucumber and realizing that their grocery store counterparts never quite lived up to their potential. Sadly, I must admit, that even the produce I buy at the farmer’s market seems a bit watered down in comparison. The only produce that ever comes close to what I am able to enjoy while in Greece, is that which was grown in someone’s personal garden. Of course, in New York City, grass is hard to come by, let alone gardens. I don’t think my husband would be too happy if I dedicated a quarter of my family’s living space to an indoor garden, so I will have to be content with whatever I can get my hands on.

There’s nothing more exciting than after waiting for an entire year for a fruit or vegetable to return into season, than when you take that first bite, and it immediately transports you into food bliss. Every time I have a ripe summer peach, I recall the very first peach my father brought to me from Georgia. Taste and smell are the two strongest senses, instantaneously recalling memories from your past. I suppose that’s why we human beings have such a love affair with food.

It’s unfortunate that a majority of our society’s youth can not even distinguish an eggplant from a bunch of grapes, let alone how those fruit are grown. We have lost ourselves in gleaming supermarket aisles, amongst neatly packed rows of fruits, vegetables, and meat, never questioning where this product or that came from. Sadly, many children are never even fed a quarter of the numerous fruits or vegetables available to them, out of monetary constraints, or worse, parental ignorance. I can’t tell you how many times I have been confronted with the latter situation in such a populated and often economically-privileged society as Manhattan. Americans, for the most part, are truly clueless about food. And I don’t feel bad saying it, as I am an American, who, for the better part of my life, carried on in food ignorance.

Wherever your travels may take you this summer, venture to see the local, seasonal produce. Most states and countries are famously known for something or other, so I am sure that you will have the opportunity to try a local delicacy or two. If this summer you decide to stick around your hood, try to uncover a hidden gem. Hey, you never know, your neighbor down the block may just have a cherry tree growing in his back yard. Do you happen to have a summer eating/growing experience you would like to share? We would love to hear from you. You can simply reply to this post, or email us at: Happy summer….and happy, healthy eating!

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