2018-07-11 / Community View


My lettuce tastes like liberty

KRYSTAL MORALEE KRYSTAL MORALEE I hope everyone enjoyed the mid-week holiday. By the sounds of all the bangs, booms and pops out there, it seems my neighbors were having a grand old time all week. As for me I got burned to a crisp spending a few hours in Lake Huron with my youngest on the Fourth, which left me very red and white, and therefore a little blue.

It’s a nice drive through the Thumb to the lake, though, and it had my squirrel brain darting all over the place with ponderings on life, liberty and the pursuit of something resembling happiness. I guess I’ve been thinking a lot about liberty lately, what that means to me, and what I can do to preserve as much of my personal freedom as possible in a world that seems determined to remove it. These are the thoughts that went through my head as I drove through the local fields of waving corn and wheat — amber waves of grain, if you will — coming upon tractors, hay wagons and tanned workers, toiling on the hottest days of the year.

It was still on my mind later, when I got home and as I picked a salad out of my garden. I plucked a leaf, stuffed it in my mouth (after checking for bugs, of course) and thought, “This lettuce tastes like liberty.”

No one else grew that lettuce. I’m the one that amended the soil, dug it up and made it fluffy, planted the seeds, watered them, and watched the lovely plants grow. No one else has touched them, and they provide food for my family. Those plants represent hours I don’t have to spend in the office so I can drive to the store and fork over green paper for green leaves.

I walked around and admired the baby peas, beets, carrots, okra, tomatoes, peppers, onions and cucumbers growing, and I thought of all the produce we purchase on a weekly basis. Here at my hands is a small market from which I can shop the freshest, most local food possible, and I don’t have to worry about deadly E. coli outbreaks, or how far my lettuce traveled. I didn’t even have to put on shoes to go get it!

That’s freedom at its finest, folks, and it’s a simple thing that many around here do. I love to drive around and see the gardens in people’s yards. Once upon a time, nearly every home had a kitchen garden from which families enjoyed fresh produce, and preserved the rest to get them through the winter months. What was once mere survival has now become a skill that fewer and fewer people possess, but I wonder: What would they do if the stores were closed? Loot them? And what next, when the shelves are empty?

We live in a culture that is departing quickly from self-reliance. We all say “someone” should do something, and that’s true, but that someone is reflected in our bathroom mirrors. I think we all need to look at what we can do to take care of our families rather than expecting someone else to do it for us.

My friend Gina Delisi has taken on a challenge for the summer to eat only foods that come from within 100 miles of her home. It’s not a simple task (have you ever found coffee grown in Michigan?) but she’s doing it and discovering sources of local sustenance she didn’t know about before. It’s a pretty admirable challenge she’s set forth for herself, but based on the photos of her meals, I’d say she’s not suffering. I know I get a deep sense of satisfaction when I prepare a meal for my family using things out of the backyard. I am far from a master gardener, but I can grow some things, cook with them, preserve them, and I’m hoping that my kids reach adulthood knowing that vegetables can grow in an old tractor tire, and meat doesn’t have to come on Styrofoam trays.

Grow a garden. Put a tomato plant in a pot on the deck, or some herbs on your kitchen windowsill. Everything you put on your kitchen table that you didn’t have to purchase is a step toward personal liberty. If you can’t grow it, stop at a local roadside produce stand and purchase some of their excess, or visit one of the local farmer’s markets. Strengthen the local economy and know where your food comes from. Be the change.

Krystal Moralee may be reached at Krystalmoralee@gmail.com.

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