Saturday, July 26, 2008

"100 Metre Diet"

After reading the great book, "The 100 Mile Diet, A Year of Local Eating" I was struck by a realization. As a country kid growing up in Northern Alberta, we lived on a "100 Metre Diet", because that was as close as our rather large garden was to the house! We grew pretty much everything we needed, hills upon hills of potatoes, peas, carrots, beats, cabbage, lettuce...and more. The first meals were made up of salads with fresh lettuce, onions, small radishes, tomatoes and dill and as a child I didn't appreciate it fully. I didn't appreciate the freshness of everything, didn't appreciate standing in the garden, pulling a carrot, rubbing the skin to remove most of the dirt and then eating it. The next meals involved fresh baby potatoes and baby peas with a cream sauce that mom made. This was served with a moose roast that had been slow cooked with mounds of onion in the oven. 

The whole family would then be enlisted to start pulling from the garden en masse. First, it was all the beets to make beet pickles (you can't bottle that wonderful smell of beet pickles simmering on the stove), then it was shelling peas with my aunts and cousins. More peas would go into my mouth than in the bucket and mom would be blanching and bagging as we shelled. Swiss Chard relish, dill pickles, pickled carrots would all come from that garden. When the snow came and the temperature plummeted, opening a glass jar of these items would remind us of what is to come again, in summer.

Pulling the many, many rows of potatoes and then laying them on the lawn , spraying the dirt off and then letting them dry in the sun before dumping them in the cold room in the basement. We had access to the potato bin from an outside window and they were unceremoniously dumped in. As children, it was our job to go downstairs and get a bucket of potatoes for mom to cook. For the first few months (September through January) it wasn't a big deal, but when the eyes would start growing long fingers that I would imagine were real fingers started poking out of the bin, I would beg my sister Jessie to go and get them. 

Do I have a garden now? No...I don't. But I sure appreciate the hard work that my mom and dad did so that we had good food on the table. There was alot of love and pride that went into what they did. I know that it is a long time past, but thanks!


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