For What It’s Worth

010011Producing your own food is a great lesson in the value of what we put in our mouths.  I have a cold.  Probably a sinus infection.  Wake up in the morning feeling like someone has been stuffing my head with cotton while I sleep.  THe cold has my fibromyalgia acting up and my whole body hurts. I knew this morning that today was my last chance to pick raspberries before they would mold on the canes.  So off I went this morning with my large colander and my gloves. 

Picking raspberries from your own garden may sound romantic in a rural ideal kind of way, but it is tedious work.  Raspberries are the most delicate of the dedicates.  Each berry has to be gently pulled off the cane.  Those that put up a fight are just not ready to be picked.  Nature knows to give up its goods when they are perfect.  As the sun and humidity began to make me sticky and uncomfortable, I questioned whether this is really what I want to be doing with the few precious hours of solitude I will have all day.  Shouldn’t I be cuddled up under a quilt somewhere? Once my husband and daughter return, I will be inundated with their requests and needs to tell me in glorious detail the adventures of their day so far. 

But, I know.  I know this is where I should and want to be.  The garden re-engerizes me, focuses me, and always teaches me a lesson.  Producing food for my family is a labor of love that rewards me in many ways.  Raspberries, in particular, are well worth the tedious picking.  Yes, they are time consuming, but I estimate I picked $60-$75 worth of organic, local raspberries–and that is just today!  Raspberries rank in the top echelons of nutrient dense super foods.  They also are so delicate, they are very likely starting to mold by the time you pay $5 for a pint at the grocery store. 

When you grow them yourself, the cash saving is obvious.  The bigger lesson is the realization that those outrageous prices are worth it.  When you have done the work yourself, you know how much labor and sweat went into those berries.  From the tilling, planting, watering, weeding, mulching, organic control of japanese beetles, all the way to the tedious, careful harvesting (while watching out for the bees who are more important to the process than you), you understand why they are among the priciest of fruits.  So, when you visit the farmer’s market and want to balk at the high prices, realize you are getting a bargain. 

I often think of the working poor put to harvest the fields here and around the world for wages that they can barely survive on.  Go pick berries for one hour.  Imagine multipling that by 10 and then think how much you would have to get paid to do that.

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