I Am Afraid of Gardening

Or what gardening produces.  Imperfection.  Oddity.  Reality.  

We have a very modest garden this year.  I don’t think I can legally call it a garden, but as long as my neighbors don’t overhear me calling it that and report it, I think everything will be all right.  A couple of rather exuberant tomato plants, an eggplant staunchly holding off an overrun attempt by one of the tomato plants, a zucchini plant that has motivational issues.  That’s it.  Rather pathetic, actually.  Or real.

The vegetables we’ve gleaned from these plants are not like what we find in the supermarket.  The eggplants are thin and small.  So are the zucchini.  The tomatoes look normal enough, although they’re mini-tomatoes.  The things I see in the supermarket are polished and huge, poster-children for all that a vegetable might hope to be when it grows up.  Those are the only vegetables I’ve seen most of my life, growing up as more or less a city kid.  Those supermarket vegetable Goliaths are my understanding of what vegetables are really like.  Or should be like.

But what if they aren’t?  

Gardening exposes this fact.  Besides the scrawniness, which I can live with rather easily being more of a carnivore, they sometimes are misshapen.  Is it OK to eat a Siamese-twin carrot? Could that be a small nest of maggots in that oddly lumpy potato?  Is it OK to eat a lemon with odd lumps on it?  Might those be carcinogenic lumps?    Should I just throw it away and wait for the lemon tree out front to produce a more conventional looking lemon?

It might sound kind of silly, but this is what happens on a large scale all the time.  What ends up in the supermarket is not necessarily representative of your average vegetable.  It is a very narrow spectrum of vegetable reality.  Everything else gets thrown out for not making the cut.  For not living up.  For being different in one respect or another.

I’m trying to overcome my fear of abnormal vegetables.  Or to broaden my horizons of what I find acceptable in a vegetable.  I suspect there is probably a niche market for them.  Or perhaps just a practical, mainstream market.  I applaud grocers like this one for committing to expanding our ideas about vegetable normality.  I certainly have a lot of room to grow in this respect.  Perhaps I should venture into creating a line of kitchen gadgets that accommodate these unconventional fruits and veggies.  Maybe a double-carrot peeler, something along the lines of Jimmy Page’s famous double neck guitar.  

Maybe I should just focus on not being afraid of gardening.  

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