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“Why can’t we get this at Costco? Or, Conversion by Tomato Sandwich

“The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will cause a revolution”

~ Paul Cezanne (1839-1906)

“…and perhaps a tomato sandwich as well!”

The other day as a friend and I picked green beans and tomatoes in the blazing sun, she looked at me and said, “You know, you can get this stuff at Costco – and it is a lot less work!”  I agreed but said that I thought it was worth it for the taste alone.  She looked unconvinced, until I fed her a tomato sandwich.

I bake bread daily (which sounds impressive until you realize that what I actually do is toss ingredients into the breadmaker!) so we always have fresh bread.  I cut a couple fat slices and slathered them with Best Foods (there is no other mayo!)  We went out into the garden and picked the largest ripe beefsteak tomato I could find, brought it into the house, cut off a 1/2 inch slab and made a one-slice sandwich.   A sprinkling of Kosher salt and a twist or two of fresh pepper – and you have a piece of heaven on earth.  As we ate our sandwiches leaning over the sink, I could see the dawning realization in her eyes.  Fresh food, simply prepared, was a transcendant taste experience.   By the end of the summer, stuffed with fresh green beans, sweet berries, succulent peaches, tart  tomatoes, and sweet corn, she is a complete fresh-local convert.  Spoiled forever and unable to look at veggies in the store in quite the same way again! 

As satisfying as it is to convert an adult, I focus most of my Evangalism on my children   As they grow up and visit friends’ homes it occurs to them – not everyone eats like we do!  Now, that isn’t to say they aren’t susceptible to the wiles of a Twinkie.  In fact if memory serves, every day of 6th grade I traded my homemade lunch for Cindy Barlow’s Wonderbread sandwich and three Oreo cookies.   But, more often than not, this time of year they clamor for fresh pico de gallo or bruschetta on crunchy french bread.  My husband says I am raising picky eaters – and I will take that – with pride!

A couple years ago we were feeding the kids in the 4-H club breakfast during the Kitsap County Fair.  Our club is small, with only 4-5 families, and we pooled our resources to feed them at least a couple nutritious meals each day during the week of the fair.   We had coolers full of homegrown meat and eggs, gallon jugs of milk from the family cow and ziplock bags of crunchy veggies to snack on.   A local grocery store owner, wanting to support the local kids, donated a couple pounds of sausage produced by a prominent national company.  I was cooking pancakes and decided to use the store’s sausage because it was already thawed out.  I sliced it into patties, fried it up, served it to the kids, and 16 year-old Meika said, “What is this?  The sausage tastes funny!  This isn’t our sausage!” 

Busted, I explained it was a donation and no, it didn’t taste like the breakfast sausage made from their homegrown hogs.  Suspicious, the other kids went over to the cooler to check and make sure we had “farm eggs” rather than “those nasty things from the store.”  I dug out a package of Farmer George’s apple sausage and order was restored.    Occasionally, our kids have been teased for being “hicks from the sticks” but at that moment they felt briefly blessed for their unique upbringing and a bit sad for their peers who didn’t raise their own food.  I too felt sorrow – that they were such a minority – children raised on farm fresh foods!

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