Saturday, October 8, 2011
Free Food All Around
I was actually contemplating this during my son's most recent soccer practice, as my 2 year old and I gathered black walnuts from schoolyard. A woman was out walking her dog and approached me to see what I was doing. She said she'd seen those green balls a lot when she was out walking and even stepped on a few. She thought they might be some kind of apples or something and was quite fascinated as I described how they went from being annoying green balls that got in the way of the lawnmower to being high quality food for my family. Later, as I was shelling acorns while supervising my kids on the playground after practice, she came up to me again and told her friend that was with her (who didn't seem so fascinated) about the walnuts and asked what I was doing now, if this was the next step in the walnut process. I told her that walnuts were much too messy to be dealing with at the playground and that I was working on more free food, but a different kind of nut. She seemed to think this was somewhat interesting, but I doubt it made any sort of long lasting impact in her life. Like a person commented on my article about how everyone can afford healthy food, "I don't know many people who are willing to scourer <sic> around for fruit and nuts, that's just not realistic."
Why isn't it realistic? Free food is all around us, from the broadleaf plantain and dandelion greens that I'm constantly tempted to slip in with my spinach that I'll be blanching and freezing (so no identifiable leaf could later be separated out and I couldn't then be asked "what's this?"), to the pears and apples I mentioned above, to the walnuts and acorns I've been "playing with" the past few days. It wasn't even a big time commitment to gather the pears, just a quick walk with the family or popping out of the car for literally 5 minutes or less when we were on our way somewhere else. The acorns were gathered at the trailer park's playground (yes, I should finally be getting some acorn recipes up soon!) while I watched my kids play, until they and their friends joined in the "fun" of helping to gather them. And like I mentioned, the walnuts were gathered while I had to be at the school for my son's soccer practice.
With the growing number of people going hungry in this world and even in this country, isn't it nuts that so much of this fantastic, free food just goes to waste?