I decided that putting the leek starts in the ground, most of them looked dead or dying, was a chance that I was willing to make. The onion starts look good. Last year, our onion crop wasn’t that good and I remember wondering why home gardeners don’t often get those vegetables that we all see in the supermarket: those red, oval tomatoes, all sized and shapely, taking their place on the well prepared produce stands or that green, full-leafed lettuce plants in February. Gardeners, at least of my ilk, live in a different world; they live in a world where food often looks like well, food and not products.
With the ongoing and growing movement with regard to food culture, many people are more and more aware of the processes that are necessary to get food to the market. The process is in fact amazing! The process, however, gives us a false sense of what food is. It is not a commodity, the consequence of a closed and well-oiled system. Rather, food is a product of the rather imperfect world in which we live. Food is a product of the soil, of water, and of time and effort and more often than not, chance.
I try to remember this as a put down the small starter potatoes, just poking out their first shoots. I remember my last crop of potatoes. They seemed small and pathetic, at least until I took a bit of them. A little salt water, heat and time and such a potato is truly a work of art. Like art, producing food relies upon a bit of imagination and a lot of elbow grease. The result, whether on canvas or in the ground, is often not what we started out thinking it would be. However, the results, somehow, are always satisfying.
My leeks are doing well as are the onion starts. My tomato seedlings have little blossoms on them as they stare up out of the hothouse. I don’t know what will come of these as the season progresses, but I know the results will not be perfect.
Nature’s process is not perfect, but nature is perfect in its imperfection. While nature is not an artist, nor does it “produce” food, it is a process that we must and always will, rely upon. Nature is a verb, perhaps, but a verb that changes meaning over time; it never sits still awaiting definition. Nature offers a bit of insight into something that we must accept: the idea of perfect imperfection. But if my memory serves me right, imperfection can taste perfectly good!