As I've grown into something vaguely resembling an adult, I continue to realize just how lucky I am. While I was growing up, my mom had a huge vegetable garden. We're talking rows upon rows to the tune of around 600 sq.ft. I pretty much grew up in the dirt. I was that grubby child, with dirt under her fingernails and pollen on her nose. And barefoot. Always barefoot.
My mom would plop me next to her to pull weeds, plant seedlings, and poke holes with my skinny fingers for direct seeding. Once I became more dexterous, I started seeding whole rows by myself and then subsequently thinning the mess out once everything sprouted. Planting young starts was always my favorite. Seeing those poor root-bound plants come out of the flats, teasing the roots out of their tangled mess, and sticking them in a hole in the ground. Once they were watered, they almost instantly greened; seemingly thanking you for getting them out of purgatory.
Watching all those little seeds and plants grow and thrive under frequent watering and rich soil was always exciting for tiny me. Finding forts among the towering tomatoes and zucchini plants with fuzzy leaves the size of my torso to fan at myself. I don't actually remember tending to the plants during this process, other than bounding through the rows, most of the actual work was left to the mother. However, I was certainly in the thick of things.
But my favorite part of the whole process? Harvesting. I mean, really, what grower of edible plants doesn't look forward to the harvest with much anticipation? Only at this point in life, it was less "harvest" and more "salad bar". In typical childlike fashion, nearly anything that entered my grubby grip ended up consumed. Cherry tomatoes? Immediately popped into my mouth like sun-warmed tangy candies. Carrots were washed with the hose, or at least wiped off on the front of my shirt, before they were crunched down. Baby zucchinis were gnawed to their blunted stem ends. Radishes, snow peas, asparagus, green beans, snap peas, broccoli, you name it, I ate it straight from the ground or stem. Nothing was safe from my chomping baby teeth.
Luckily I was a pipsqueak, so eventually some of that produce ended up in the kitchen to be consumed in an actual meal for, you know, the rest of the family.
I never had trouble with the whole, "where does your food come from?" thing. I know, first and foremost, my food comes from the earth. I'm baffled by the idea that anyone who consumes anything doesn't know that green beans grow on vines or on bushes, or that brussels sprouts grow on a stalk.
I love growing food. Maybe it's because I was lucky enough to have a mother that gardened. Maybe it's because I believe that my understanding of plants allows me to cook tastier foods. Maybe it's because I not so secretly want to live off the land. Maybe it's because heirloom seeds and open pollination is really important to me. Or maybe it's simply because I just really like to play in the dirt.
You know... It's probably just that last one.